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Knightly, who has Down syndrome and apraxia, was matched with an assistance dog named Cadbury, a two-year-old black Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, professionally trained in over 40 commands to help Knightly live a more independent life.
Cadbury has been able to assist Knightly by encouraging communication, behavioral reinforcement, speech production, social inclusion, and so much more. Cadbury is more than a best friend — he is an important partner in independence for Knightly.
“Our family has grown by four paws and an incredible group of ambassadors who show that a life with a disability is full of hope, opportunity and community,” Knightly’s parents, David and Drexelle share. “Our son has found his best friend who loves and plays with him, no questions asked.”
New Castle County Police Department welcomed expertly trained Facility Dog Nikko to their team.
Nikko helps in criminal investigations, including calming a young girl long enough for detectives to gather necessary evidence from a crime scene.
“The whole situation was causing her stress and anxiety,” said Master Cpl. Chris Gigliotti, Nikko’s handler and a member of the department’s Community Services Unit. “So, we got on the floor and played. We taught her a couple of Nikko’s commands, and after about an hour, she became agreeable to the investigation.”
Nikko has been trained in numerous commands to ease trauma victims in stressful situations as well as assist children and other vulnerable populations.
Leigh Dittman was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, which makes her bones weaker than normal and more prone to fractures. When it was time for her to apply for college, she knew that she would need physical help. That’s where Service Dog Nerf enters the picture.
”Nerf was the perfect match for me and now, with him by side, I am able to attend The University of Tampa and achieve my college dream. This wouldn’t have happened without Canine Companions.” shares Leigh.
When Leigh is at school or running errands, she needs some physical assistance. Nerf assists by retrieving dropped items, pulling Leigh’s manual wheelchair and other tasks that enable Leigh to be more independent and involved around campus and in life.