Thursday, March 19, 2009

Boston's certified

Five weeks ago, I'd written a story about Boston, a Golden Retriever who could detect seizures in 6-year-old Karon Silva. The dog's knack of alerting Karon's mother, Elizabeth, was amazing. Elizabeth was trying to raise enough money to pay to get the animal certified as a service dog, which meant he could accompany Karon into public places.

They were able to do just that. The Silva family had $1,000 of their own, and were able to raise through a bank account another $1,050 to pay for a certified handler from Nevada to work with Boston for three days to get a license. The training began on Feb. 23 when Eric Saunders of Pahrump, Nevada, stopped in Amarillo for the sessions on his way to Florida.

"He was very impressed with what Boston already knew and how laid back he was," Silva said. "Boston is still 100 percent accurate in his detections. Karon had a bad spell a couple of weeks ago with eight seizures in two hours and Boston was able to be with her at the hospital the whole time."

Indeed, Boston is able to go with Karon to stores, the hospital, church and to restaurants. He wears a vest with a patch to indicate he's a service dog. Elizabeth also has a card listing a service dog's rights and a phone number to call to verify. Boston has not gone to Wolflin Elementary, where Karon is in the first grade, yet because they are waiting for her full-time teacher to return in two weeks from maternity leave.

"It has been much nicer than it was before," Silva said. "Karon is much more of a kid now. She has some independence she didn't have before. She's not as clingy and as anxious any more."

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