Family of Richardson boy who received service dog meets those who raised, trained her
RICHARDSON, Texas - It was an emotional moment for the family of a third grade Richardson boy with spina bifida.
He received his specially trained service dog from an Irving based non-profit that matches people around the nation with dogs that can give them greater independence.
Two families are connected by one dog.
One family raised her.
"I said I’m not going to fall in love with her," Kelly Torman said.
The other family received her.
"I feel like I can have fun with her," 9-year-old Solomon Paresky said.
Friday the two families met for the first time.
The Tormans got Wickie when she was 8 weeks old, and spent a year and a half teaching the Labrador-golden retriever mix how to be a service dog.
Their labor of love has now paid off in a big way.
Wickie is now a service dog for Solomon, who was born with spina bifida.
"She is officially part of our family," Solomon’s mother, Stephanie Paresky, said Friday.
After the official leash exchange Stephanie told her son's story.
"He has had 15 surgeries in his short life," she said. "Most recently in April."
When Solomon was born, the family had to learn a new way of life before he could even come home from the NICU.
"We had to go through tests to prove we could take care of our son," Solomon’s mother recalled. "We had to bring home a ventilator."
Now, thanks to the donors who make breeding and training these service dogs possible through the nonprofit Canine Companions, there is a bright moment in Solomon’s story.
"Now we get to bring home a dog and not a machine," Stephanie added.
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Wickie knows how to pick things up to help Solomon around the house, can open doors, and offer encouragement, to some extent.
"Already encouraging him to brush his teeth more just like Wickie," Solomon’s mother joked.
And there's something else she can do too.
"Caring for a dog gives him confidence that he can do things for himself," Stephanie added.
Courtney Craig, a spokeswoman for Canine Companions, showed FOX 4 how it all begins.
"This is one of our newest future service dogs," she said while showing off one of their dogs. "All of the puppies in our program start out like this."
The puppy trainer volunteers do the hard work.
"Potty training, teach them to be a nice dog, love socializing in public," Craig explained. "Do all that for a year and a half, and then give them back to us, because it is ultimately for someone else."
The Tormans said they are ready to do it all again.
"And this one, I’m not going to fall in love with," Torman said.
Click here for more information about how to become a puppy raiser for Canine Companions, apply for a service dog, or make a donation.