Tylar and Andy
In June of 2004, my 6-year-old daughter, Tylar, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the right mandible. She started chemotherapy at Oklahoma University's Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City. She underwent tumor resection in September of 2004, along with reconstruction. Unfortunately, the reconstruction failed, so Tylar is left missing the right lower side of her face.
In March, while we were out for a special trip to the mall, there was an animal adoption going on. We were approached by a woman in a wheelchair with a dog with a vest on. She inquired about my little bald girl in a wheelchair. I explained that Tylar had cancer and neuropathy from the chemotherapy that was making her legs very weak. She wheeled up to Tylar and told the dog to visit. The dog, Nero, put his head in Tylar's lap. This was the beginning of a new friendship. The woman was Dawn Ramsey and Nero is her hearing/service dog. Dawn is a fundraiser extraordinaire for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Nero is her second dog from CCI.
The dogs are placed with families who are their puppy raisers, and then they go back to a regional facility for what is called advanced training. In advanced training, they learn to pull wheelchairs, turn on/off lights, get things, etc.
In the months to come, Dawn and Nero would visit Tylar in the hospital, and Nero would join Tylar on the bed when she was having inpatient chemotherapy. She loved him so much that Dawn helped me work on getting Tylar a partner of her own. We applied to CCI, but unfortunately Tylar did not meet the requirements to receive a dog from them directly. About a month after we found out that she did not qualify, we found out about a dog that was being discharged due to a health issue. The dog in question had a problem with urinary tract infections. He was trained and was about to graduate when this happened, so he was going to be sent back to his puppy raiser due to the health problem. Dawn contacted me and said she felt this would be the perfect dog for Tylar as he was trained, but just had a health issue. His puppy raisers had agreed to donate the dog to Tylar.
Tylar has some after affects from the chemotherapy. She can be walking and will fall at times. She also has some hearing loss. Andy is now Tylar's constant companion. He had one incidence with a UTI after she received him in June of 2005. Since that time, he has had no other issues with it. Andy accompanies Tylar to doctor visits, stores, and restaurants. A couple months ago, he even stayed overnight at Medical City Hospital in Dallas with her while she had her tonsils removed. If someone would enter her room, he would come over to nudge me if I was asleep to let me know.
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