Visa has been life-changing for our family. Liam has made so much progress because of Visa. The healing didn’t begin until he got her. She not only comforted him and calmed him but she has helped his self-confidence. Her presence bridges the gap when he is in public. He takes great pride in how well he has trained her and that has also helped his self-esteem. Just yesterday a dog trainer who works at St Francis saw Liam and Visa in public after a situation occurred with another supposed service dog and she approached and complimented him on Visas' training. He had a smile from ear to ear. Just a few weeks ago Liam was able to stay overnight at my parents without Visa and I dog sat. It may sound trivial to some but it is huge for us. There was a time he could go visit for an hour without an anxiety/panic attack. He is concerned that someone will take Visa if he gets better but we know there will always be times he needs her. There was a time when I couldn’t shower without Liam being right outside the door or go to the washer or wood stove without him behind me and forget leaving the house. I don’t know where he would be without her coming into our lives. She came at just the right time. 10 days after her arrival our daughter was diagnosed with a terminal disease. Because of Visa I won’t hesitate to get a service dog for her when the time is right. I can’t thank service paws enough for their help.
Life, before I got Koda, was a terrifying place. I have a severe peanut allergy that I only developed in the past five years. In the time before I had Koda, I used to go to the ER with a severe allergic reaction twice or more a year. I remember one visit that scared me. All anaphylactic reactions are terrifying, but this one imprinted the severity of my condition. My husband drove me to the ER, I was barely breathing. I remember a nurse who made me sit in a wheelchair and pushed me straight back to a room. My husband who is an EMT was pacing, scared that he couldn’t do anything. I had two doctors assigned to me, not something that ever happens in an ER. One doctor had scrubbed up and opened intubation supplies and a cricothyroidotomy kit, just waiting for me to stop breathing. The other doctor was yelling at the nurse, who was struggling to scan the epinephrine. I remember him telling her, “I don’t care if it gets scanned, get it in her body before she dies.” I received excellent care that day and did not get intubated but at that moment, I realized this allergy would win one of these days. I have two small children and a wonderful husband, and I don’t want to die early. I am allergic to very common food. Peanuts are iconic and can be found at baseball games, bars, ice cream shops, and restaurants. Also, peanut butter is a common food in the workplace. I can have a severe allergic reaction from touching, eating, and even smelling peanuts. Food allergies are hard; no one except those who suffer from an allergy think about the surfaces they come in contact with after they eat food. Before Koda, I was scared to eat out or go to a friend's house. The world is a deadly place for me. In September 2019, I was paired with Koda. She is a peanut detection dog. Since she became my companion, I now feel more confident visiting friends, going to events, walking around the grocery store, and eating out. She can detect harmful concentrations of peanuts on any surface and in the air. She has saved my life many times by detecting peanuts before I encountered them. Having a service animal has given me my life back.
Vanessa Brazee and Koda May Brazee
My name is Branden and I am a disabled Marine veteran. I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. I suffer from PTSD and TBI and also some physical disabilities. Being in Afghanistan for about a year everything seemed normal; however, when I got back to the states that’s when the real war began, with flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. I was at my lowest point at that time and didn't want to live anymore with the war within my head. Another Marine buddy of mine told me I should see about getting a service dog to help with my PTSD & anxiety triggers especially out in public in large crowds. After doing some searching online I came across Service Paws of CentralPA (SPCP) and spoke with Joe. I told Joe exactly why I needed a service dog and asked him if he could help me in any way. A week or so went by and Joe called and referred me to New Hope Assistance Dogs located in Warren, Pa. After speaking with New Hope they said they have a dog ready to be trained with me. Zeke is a year old and was in a prison training program and already had advanced training. When I picked up Zeke we had an instant connection and bond. It’s like Zeke knew I was in need of some help. Zeke has been a true blessing for me. He helps me with my PTSD and anxiety triggers. I feel more comfortable being in larger crowds now with him by my side, letting me know that everything is all right. He is the smartest dog I know and he is truly a lifesaver! I can’t thank Joe and SPCP enough for helping me find Zeke and all the donations to make it possible for me to have him.
Cameron has meant the world to myself and my wife, Vicki. He has made it much easier for me to live a more independent life freeing Vicki and the kids from worrying about me. We love him very, very much.
Ben DeLeo & Morty
Having a child brings an immense amount of joy into your life. Having a child with a special need only intensifies the love. We want what every parent wishes, a happy successful life for our little boy. Having a service dog has provided us with the hope needed to continue our journey. Morty has been a great puppy who loves our son. They are growing up together and learning so much from each other. Ben has enjoyed his summer so much more with Morty by his side. We look forward to the evolution of this friendship
Courtney Musser & EJ
My service dog’s name is E J. He is a seizure detection dog. He is such a great dog. We have a bond already. I love the way New Hope Assistance Dogs provided EJ so quickly for me. They are very caring.
Nicole Horn and Velvet
My name is Nicole Horn and this is Velvet. As a person who struggles with PTSD and Asperger’s Syndrome, I needed a service dog to help me with my severe anxiety (especially when I’m out in public), panic attacks, frequent nightmares that contribute to my ongoing issues with insomnia, and hallucinations. I also have a history of seizures in which I fully lose consciousness and fainting spells that add some challenges to my daily life.
Since pairing with Velvet through New Hope Assistance Dogs, INC, my anxiety in public has lessened. When I feel a panic attack coming on, she provides deep pressure therapy by either leaning against me when I’m standing or by getting in my lap if I’m sitting which helps to calm me down. I’m also sleeping better at night because she sleeps with me and will get on top of me and lick me when I awaken from a nightmare which calms me immediately instead of leading to a full-blown panic attack and sleepless night as they have in the past. She has also been able to detect when I was going to have a seizure or fainting spell and has alerted me by nudging me with her paw.
We have a very close bond. I couldn’t imagine my life without her. She has made so many things in my life so much easier and has improved my quality of life from something as simple as helping me sleep to enabling me to go about daily tasks like running errands and shopping. We are just working on a couple of little things to finish up our training with New Hope. We make a great team! I’m very thankful to have Velvet in my life.