Exceptional Pups: Bandit's Buddies

Exceptional Pups: Bandit's Buddies

From Katherine Lemming Swafford

We are raising funds to help train a service dog for our sons Griffin and Everett. Griffin has severe ADHD, Developmental delays & sensory issues. Everett has a syndrome affecting his respiratory system, hearing & speech

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Update #1

11 months ago

Thank you Carmen for our first donation! Your generosity will provide care for Bandit for an entire month! We appreciate your help and are so grateful for you!

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Thank you for visiting our page and wanting to learn more about our efforts. Griffin and Everett are our twin sons, age four. Although they are twins, they could not be more different - in looks, size, and even favorite toys! They each have a different set of medical challenges as well, but one thing they do share is an innate love for all creatures. And that's where Bandit comes in.  Bandit is a black Labrador puppy who is currently in training to become their service dog.  While he will primarily benefit Griffin on a daily basis, he will also be trained with a specific skill meant to help Everett as well. 

Griffin is a fun-loving, sweet, and imaginative little boy who loves cars, trains, cartoons and his family.  He especially loves his two brothers (his twin Everett and their older brother Porter) and playing with them outside or at the trampoline park.  Griffin also has severe ADHD, sensory issues, severe speech delays, developmental delays that affect his cognition and daily life skills, and severe anxiety.  As a result, Griffin is highly prone to impulsive behavior without intervention which can often lead to him running away with no warning in public places as well as having extreme meltdowns over trivial situations. Griffin has trouble in new places and with new people and can experience "sensory overload", leading to increased impulsivity and meltdowns. As can be imagined, Griffin struggles to enjoy what most would consider "normal" family outings, even daily errands. While he works very hard to overcome his delays and challenges, it does mean that oftentimes Griffin misses out on fun activities and social events or has to leave them, and sometimes the entire family opts to sit out certain activities. Bandit will help to keep Griffin "anchored" in public spaces and also be trained to help find him if he is able to run off.  He will also be trained to help keep Griffin calm, help calm him when necessary and most importantly to serve as a transitional tool in new and unfamiliar situations. This will enable Griffin to experience his world in new and exciting ways as well as our family as a whole.  Bandit has already made a huge impact in Griffins life in many small ways and we cannot wait to see them grow together!

Everett was born with a Primary Ciliary Dyskenesia and Situs Inversus Totalis (also known as Kartageners Syndrome).  He also has hearing loss for which he wears cochlear hearing aids and has Apraxia of speech. While Everett has made great strides in his speech and development over the last couple of years, his condition is progressive and is something he will live with his entire life.  The biggest concern with patients like Everett is that the cilia in their bodies either does not work or is "lazy", resulting in an inability to move fluids through their bodies in ways that most people can. This can lead to lung and respiratory issues among other things and means that even the common cold can be a grave concern. Bandit will be trained to alert us and Everett's caregiver's if he begins to have trouble breathing while asleep or really any other time.  Time is of the essence if Everett develops any infection and with Bandit's extra help we can get treatment for Everett as quickly as possible even if it is the middle of the night.  

The costs involved in training and caring for a service dog can range greatly, depending on what services they will need to provide.  in Bandit's case, we are aiming to raise $12,000.  This will help cover his training costs, supplies, veterinary expenses and certification fees. We estimate it will take between 18 and 24 months to fully train Bandit and have him living with us full-time, after which he will only require annual re-certification.  We have an amazing trainer who has already started working with Bandit and he has learned an incredible amount in a very short time. He currently spends the weekends with our family to help grow the bond between him and the boys, and spends weekdays at his trainers house to work on skills and training. 

We are so excited to share our journey with you and to raise awareness in the community about the roles of service dogs in children with special needs. Our goal is to continue fundraising efforts even after Bandit has been placed with us full-time so that we may sponsor a dog for another child and their family.  We want to be able to help at least one family annually if not more.  Thank you again for taking the time to read our story!

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Katherine Lemming Swafford posted a new update:
11 months ago

Update #1

Thank you Carmen for our first donation! Your generosity will provide care for Bandit for an entire month! We appreciate your help and are so grateful for you!

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