On Friday morning, Nov. 8, the Davis household was abuzz with activity.Family and friends began arriving shortly after 8:30. Brenda Hodgens and her twin sister, Linda Turner, brought in a platter of sausage and ham biscuits.Lisa Wallace came in and greeted her special friends. Grandparents and great-grandparents arrived, getting their share of hugs and kisses.A little after 9 a.m., the moment everyone had anticipated for more than a year finally arrived.Theyre here! someone said, and everyone rushed out into the chilly morning, standing eagerly in the driveway. Cheri Campbell opened the back door of her white truck and asked gently, Are you ready to meet your new family?She carried Gabe, a 5-month-old yellow Labrador retriever, in her arms and introduced him to the Davises.Gabe is a seizure-alert dog. He will serve as a companion to Anna Beth Davis, 51/2. Anna Beth has a brain disorder that causes seizures, and Gabe will help her attain a measure of independence she hasnt had until now. Anna Beth is the daughter of Tim and Corey Davis, and she has a brother, Seth, 31/2.An article in Cabarrus News in August 2012 told readers about Anna Beths need for a service dog, and people responded, said Hodgens, a close family friend. Donations came from R. Brown McAllister, Royal Oaks and Forest Park elementary schools, Stepping Stones Preschool, Kannapolis Church of God, West Point Baptist Church, First Wesleyan Church in Kannapolis, Kimball Lutheran Church, Kannapolisthe Harrisburg Cruisers Classic Car Club and many individuals.That article was all it took, Hodgens said. Gods hand was in it the whole time.The largest donations toward the needed total of $26,500 came from the Harrisburg Cruisers ($10,500) and the Sam Wallace Memorial Fund ($6,500). Lisa Wallace, Sams mother, set up the fund after his death in 2011. When I read the article in the paper, I knew immediately that Anna Beth was our first recipient, Wallace said.Corey Davis' parents, Mel and Myra Thompson, also came to meet Gabe.Its the answer to prayer, Mel said. Its really tough having a child who takes constant attention. This will help some of that. Anna Beth loves animals.Anna Beth cant speak, but she can make sounds to indicate some of her needs. Several times during the morning, she shrieked with laughter whenever Gabe came to give her kisses.The trainers let us name him, Corey said, so we named him Gabriel, like the angel.Gabe already been trained in basic commands, and Cheri Campbell spent several days with the family to teach them how to work with their new dog. Gabe will be able to tell Mom and Dad with a trained alert signal that Anna Beth is having seizures, Camptell explained. Gabes just a real sweet, laid-back, calmer dog. Campbell will continue working with the family every 90 to 120 days and will have weekly contact with them by phone. People call this a job, Campbell said, but its a calling. Its definitely gratifying.Like any great-grandparents, Whit and Evelyn Whitley think their great-grandchildren are precious. Shes excited, Evelyn said of Anna Beth. I could tell she took up with Gabe right away. She loves people.Seth, too, was thrilled to have a new dog.I think he likes you, Campbell said, as Seth wrapped his arms around Gabe.Watching all the happy activity was overwhelming for Wallace, she said. Im just so happy. They are such a special family, Wallace said. Ive just fallen in love with all of them. I didnt realize how exciting this would be.Were so blessed, Corey Davis said. And now hes here, and Anna Beth can sleep in her own bed.Because Anna Beths seizures are silent, shed been sleeping with her parents in their queen-size bed, along with Seth and their dachshund. Corey and Tim are expecting a third baby in May. I think were gonna have a little more happiness from here on out, she said. I think Gabe will fit right in with us and our family, Tim Davis said. As a dad, I have seen my little girl go through seizures, and I feel helpless. This dog will be with her more than her parents will. This dog will be with her 24 hours. Hell never leave her side.Gabe took it all in stride, sniffing and wagging his tail and giving kisses and receiving kisses and hugs and doing all the things young dogs do. But hes definitely a special dog.As the morning wound down and folks began to leave, Corey Davis and Lisa Wallace embraced in the kitchen, both in tears.I just love you! Corey told her friend.My Sam would be so proud today, Lisa said later. He loved dogs and children. This is as good as it gets.Warren Retrievers trains Labrador retrievers to be diabetic alert dogs, autism service dogs or seizure alert dogs. For more information about this organization, visit www.sdwr.org.
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013
Young patient gets seizure-alert dog
Susan Shinn is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Susan? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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