My name is Alexa and my husband and I have two beautiful children, both diagnosed with Autism. They receive numerous forms of therapy throughout the day, mainly for behavior, social skills, and speech. We started researching other forms of therapy and enrolled them into Equine Therapy.
Equine Therapy was a success! The horses brought relaxation to their mind and body. Meltdowns defused quickly. Their school teacher saw an increase in their speech and focus. They even slept better at night. I knew instantly an Autism Service Dog would provide love and assistance for our children.
After thorough research, I found a Service Dog Organization based out of Virginia that would breed, raise, and train a dog to fit the needs for our children. It was expensive, but with their good reviews and offering a Lifetime Training Guarantee where the trainer comes to your home when requested, I started the application process. It took a year, but with the help of our family, friends, local clubs, organizations, and businesses, we were able to fundraise the full $25,000. The financial goal was met in February 2020, and a dog would be placed within a year. Relief set in, thank you’s were sent out, and the waiting began.
In May 2020, the Service Dog Organization declared Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, citing COVID-19 as the cause for their closure. Devastation, betrayal, and embarrassment set in. I felt betrayed that the organization stole money and a future dog from a special needs family. I felt embarrassed, not knowing how to break this news to my family, friends, and local families who spent their time and money to help us. I didn’t know what to do, but I worked too hard to not give up on getting our children a Service Dog.
I joined a Facebook Support Group that consisted of families, trainers, and anyone who indirectly worked for the defunct Service Dog Organization. The families helped each other through words of hope and tons of virtual hugs as we continued to work on our goal for a dog. But who really helped us to continue our goal were the supporters who posted info on puppy breeders, puppy trainers, and many service dog/therapy dog organizations who were willing to help out in any way.
Someone had posted information about an organization called Bella’s Buddies. That night I called Amanda and we had a wonderful conversation. Amanda was aware of the situation I was in and was willing to help me make my dream come true for our children. From that first phone call, I knew this was the organization I wanted to work with. Being 1,500 miles away from each other, Amanda kept an open line of communication. She kept us involved in the decision-making process of which dog would fit our needs based on what tasks the dog needed to do for our children.
In December 2020, we finally received the great news that Coffee, a standard poodle, would be coming home to us from Texas to New Jersey!
When Coffee arrived, I posted on the Facebook Service Dog Support page “In 2020, I saw a dream crumble to a dream come true”. We are so happy to have never lost hope and to have never given up. As terrible the situation may be, so much good came out of it. We are so blessed to have Bella’s Buddies in our lives!