Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Here's to our year of glad tidings and cheer!

What a difference an entire year makes....and bringing home a service dog.  This time last year, as in January 1, Joe and I welcomed 2012 with much gratitude, and truthfully relief, after a pretty miserable 2011.  We could not wait to bid farewell to 2011 and move on to bigger and better things in 2012.  And, move on, we DID!  :)   There was definitely something to be said for starting anew in 2012. 

There were lots of high points between January and May 2012, but Memorial Day Weekend began our highest points of 2012.   Zachary was sent his "match" from 4 Paws for Ability.  He got a personal email and picture from Twinkie, and his life hasn't been the same since....clearly, neither has ours.  :)  (God love our "energetic" pup!  LOL)   Since Zachary is a couple of years older this time around and has been to 4 Paws before, he definitely understood what this email was all about and couldn't wait to meet Twinkie.   For the next week, he carried a picture of Twinkie with him where ever he went, and after the 540 minute drive from New Jersey to Ohio and just one more  sleep...THE big day had finally arrived!
On June 5, 2012, Zachary met Twinkie.  He was beyond excited!!  His world changed for the better and in ways we really could not have imagined because seeing is believing.  Many of our experiences leading up to and including training with Twinkie were both surreal and emotional.  There were many days and nights throughout 2011 that I tearfully questioned why one child who struggles everyday of his life had to struggle with the loss of his first service dog and the, now, inevitable loss of another?   How could this happen to one child...in one year no less?  Many people told me that perhaps these challenges that we faced in 2011 were all part of the path we needed to travel to get to Twinkie.  We would've much preferred traveling a smoother path with fewer detours and road blocks, but we DID eventually make it to our amazing final destination in June...a service dog certified for public access!!  Xenia, Ohio has turned out to be the best destination vacation EVER!!  :)

Prior to leaving for 4 Paws in June, Joe and I very seriously began to discuss the need to adjust the medication Zachary takes to address the significant amount of anxiety he experiences and planned on moving forward with a medication increase after we got home mid-June.   Above all, anxiety is and always has been the most pervasive challenge Zachary faces.  His level of anxiety and his ability to appropriately manage it is the driving force behind most, if not all, of what Zachary does...and does not do for that matter.  

A new challenge that we were facing with Zachary throughout 2011 and up until Twinkie became a part of our life this past June was the fact that is was becoming increasingly more difficult to get Zachary to leave our house.  He no longer wanted to go out into the community doing the things we knew he enjoyed.  He just wanted to stay home.  Period. At the end of the day, when the world is an unsettling place because it's too loud, too bright, too crowded and moves faster than you're able to process, staying home is a much better option despite the fact it's the worst possible option for a child like Zachary.
Visit to the ER...asthma.  
Lunch on the patio at Applebee's
Upon arriving in Ohio, we had no doubt that Zachary would absolutely love Twinkie and bond with her, but we did not expect the fact that he would so quickly associate a feeling of safety and calm with her while out in the community.  We explained that Twinkie was different than Aubrey and Elfie in that she was allowed to go out and about with him...where ever he goes, she goes.  He loved the idea of this from the very first time we went out into the community with Twinkie, and the rest, my friends, is history.  For the first time in a very long time, Zachary seemed happy, relaxed and was eager to leave without hesitation.  There has not been one, single time since we've gotten home with Twinkie that Zachary has balked at the idea of leaving the house....no tears, no stress, no frustration, no "fight", no bribes, no pleads--- no nothing.  Not once.   In fact, he's even asking to leave and do things with Twinkie by his side.   
Watching the RC Airplanes at the park.  
When we first got home, Zachary always asked if Twinkie were coming with him just to make sure.   Now he just assumes she'll be there with him because that has become his norm.  Wherever he goes, she goes.  What has also become his norm is the happiness and confidence he now leaves our house with.  He has his girl with him everywhere he goes, and he knows she makes it easier for him.  He doesn't entirely understand why, but he knows that Twinkie helps him, and that's all that really matters.  As a result of all of this, we never did have to move forward with that medication increase.   Since nothing else has changed other than Twinkie becoming a part of our family, there's really no other explanation for this change in Zachary's life and ours.   It's all very hard to explain, but saying we're eternally grateful to is a good start!  

Relaxing and watching TV with his girl.  :) 
Twinkie brings a calm to Zachary's sometimes stormy world and continues to make his world a much happier and more peaceful place.  Twinkie is a constant companion and friend.  Twinkie helps Zachary in a way no one or nothing else ever could.   When the going gets rough, he wants Twinkie...even when he doesn't want to admit it.  When the going gets rough, Twinkie knows he needs her.  She has a very special job to do for a very special boy, and God knows she does it well.  Better than well, really.  She's amazing!  We can't wait to watch them as they continue to learn and grow throughout this amazing journey they're on together.  

Lately we've even been talking about flying on a plane somewhere.  "Twinkie can come on the plane, right Mommy?"  Maybe 2013 will continue to bring us more than we could have ever imagined and hoped for; seeing is believing.  

So cheers to you, 2012!  Thanks for a great year.  We can't wait to see what our 2013 destination is.   Stay tuned.


  1. Congrats I hope that he and Twinkle have a exciting 2013

  2. You brought tears to my eyes! Love that your sweet, innocent Twinkie is everything you could have possibly dreamed for in Zachary's life. Can't wait to hear all the fun exploits you will have in 2013 :)

  3. Don't forget that planes fly to Denver!

    1. :) We're hoping to build up to that long of a flight one day. i think to start we'll try somewhere we can reasonably drive back home from in case he doesn't want to get back on the plane...like Philly! LOL

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