Obie will be placed as a successor dog for Caleb at ICAN's upcoming June 14th, 2018 Graduation. He will provide Mobility Assistance to Caleb. Here is Caleb's perspective on receiving Obie written by his mother Suzanne.
When Caleb was just 8 years old, we found out about ICAN from my sister, who is a pediatric occupational therapist. Caleb to this day is still undiagnosed, but struggles with his balance, coordination, and has a seizure disorder. He uses a power wheelchair to get around. We thought a service dog would be great for him, so we decided to apply, thinking it would take a few years.
Well, the call came within a few months and Sally said she had a dog for him. I was pregnant with my 5th baby, but Sally said she was okay with that as long as I was! That baby will be 12 years old in June. We were quite the circus parade with 5 kids, ages newborn via 10, a power chair, and a service dog named Declan.
Declan and Caleb
Declan went to school with Caleb everyday and we noticed a huge difference in him. Having a dog increased his self-confidence and helped him make friends easily. His PE teacher just happened to be a dog-lover and would design special games that Caleb and Declan would play together in class. He was included in the yearbook and the entire school just loved him. Declan provided a calm, gentle presence that Caleb needed. He gave him constant companionship, picked up things he would easily drop, and provided unconditional love.
Eventually, Declan was retired, but the companionship and love remained. We were so happy that he made it through Caleb's high school graduation. Caleb said, "Declan was one of the greatest things about my childhood….we grew up together." Saying goodbye to him was one of the hardest days, but we knew it was time.
Declan and Caleb on graduation day.
After losing Declan, we needed a year to grieve. When we heard about the ICAN 15 year celebration, that prompted us to apply for a successor dog. Just being around the dogs at that event made Caleb light up again and realize a piece was missing from his life that that could only be filled by a dog.
Caleb is now 20 years old, a high school graduate, and working weekly as a volunteer at Norton Children's Hospital and as a math tutor at Floyd Central High School. He has matured so much and has a desire to serve and encourage others. A service dog would provide much-needed companionship and help him become a more independent adult.
We got the call to come up and meet two different dogs in March. Caleb was so excited when he got to meet Obie. They worked together first, then they brought in the other dog, Hope. Caleb really enjoyed just being around the dogs that day. But, before we left, they brought Obie back in again and it was amazing to see how focused he was on Caleb, compared to Hope. I think right then Caleb knew he had found the perfect match. When we got the official call, we decided to surprise Caleb with the news. We framed a picture from the day they first met and gave Caleb a dog collar with Obie's name engraved on the tag. He was so happy!
Obie will be coming home soon!
Obie will provide the constant companionship that Caleb needs now in his life. He spends more time at home now and his siblings are at school all day. Caleb enjoys his privacy as an adult and Obie will be able to pick up things he drops, including his ipad, remote control, or water bottle. Since his bedroom is in the basement, Obie will help to alert us if Caleb needs something or is not feeling well. Caleb also wants Obie to be an encourager to others in the community. We are hoping he can eventually do some therapy visits at Norton Children's Hospital when Caleb is there doing his volunteer work.
Obie and Caleb – a perfect match!
Obie will be the perfect companion for Caleb in this next phase of life. He will help Caleb gain more independence, provide unconditional love, and be there to assist him daily. Obie will help fill a void that Declan left behind-one that can only be filled by the unconditional love and support of a service dog.
Alisha, an ICAN inmate handler trained Obie at the Indiana Women's Prison. She shared with us the following, ''Obie is an amazing, one of a kind dog, said Alisha. Training him has enriched my life and has been a wonderful experience for me. Obie's partnership with Caleb will help him successfully navitage through the many challenges he will face in his life and I am proud to be a part of that and very proud of Obie.''
Obie and his handler, Alisha
Please join us on June 14th to witness full circle when Obie's handler, Alisha, does the passing of the vest over to Caleb. The graduation takes place on Thursday, June 14th at the Indiana Women's Prison. It begins at 7pm and arrival time must be done between 6:15 and 6:45pm to allow time for security clearance. There is no cost to attend, however, you must be 18 years or older and pre-registered.
To learn more and see photos from other ICAN Graduations, please visit ICAN Graduation.
DEADLINE TO REGISTER is JUNE 6th. PLEASE REGISTER by clicking here: Registration for June Graduation.
Alisha & Obie photos by Liz Kaye Photography