Any time a bond is formed between a person with challenges and a service animal, it is a beautiful thing. Service dogs prevent loneliness that often is the reality for a person who lives their life differently than the main stream. They provide services that the person cannot take care of on their own and they alert when something goes wrong. They are highly trained and their senses are so advanced that they are like having a 24/7 live in helper.
The following video shows that sometimes it is much more than that. Sometimes it is not just about opening a door, getting the blanket, alerting a neighbor of a health issue. Sometimes it goes so much deeper that the service dog becomes a guardian, care-taker, friend, baby sitter and if need be a rescuer of their human charge. Sometimes the difference the addition to the family of a service dog makes, changes the dynamics of a family. Sometimes it changes day to day life, and sometimes it prevents the unthinkable.
Bruce and Carolyn Tingum are the parents of three beautiful children. Garrett is one of their 9 year old twin sons. Garrett has a host of medical problems. The issue that causes the most danger is severe autism.
Garrett is continually putting himself in danger. He escapes the house even though it is like Fort Knox. He will get into people’s cars. He will walk into people’s homes. He will eat things that are not edible and he will go places that are unsafe and he does not understand that he should not. Because of this, Garrett is watched closely by every member of the family. Social situations are avoided. The Tingum’s whole world revolved around keeping Garrett safe. But, even as heart wrenching as that was, there was a bigger issue looming. As Garrett gets bigger and stronger and harder to control, there could come a time when they could no longer care for him at home. Their biggest fear in life was the possibility that they would have to make the choice to institutionalize their son.
The Tingum’s reached out for help. Hoping a service animal could offer some assistance and sense of safety. But the companies that they contacted said it was not going to happen. Not in this severe case. Then the Tingum’s found Tender Loving Canines.
Tender Loving Canines is a nonprofit group that is dedicated to improving the lives of special needs people, while providing a loving home for their extensively trained dogs. TLC matched Garrett with Ruby, a loving Golden Retriever. Ruby not only is company and help for Garrett, she is trained to alert if he is escaping and to find him if he gets away. A specialty designed harness allows Garrett to walk with Ruby while attached to his waste. The parent has the leash and Garrett and his parent walk Ruby. But, if Garrett tries to escape, Ruby will brace herself so he cannot pull away.