Enthusiastic boy seeks multi-purpose assistance dog to help maximize his potential.
Kaleo was born on July 19, 2005. He was a full-term baby, 9 lbs. 4 oz, 22 inches long, hearty and strong. He did everything that babies were “supposed” to do: cooing, babbling, smiling and laughing with those around him, reaching out to pat the family dog walking by, happily devouring his homemade baby food. When Kaleo was 8 months old, his development slowed drastically. He was unable to sit without falling, had shown no signs of crawling, and was responding less and less to his surroundings. Time went on and he stopped responding to his name, averted his eyes from the gaze of others, and was easily overwhelmed by small crowds and noise. His motor skills lagged far behind those of his peers. At 14 months, Kaleo’s doctors began to accept his differences as significant and there the journey began.
Over the last 7 years, Kaleo has struggled with Autism, Muscular Dystrophy, Epilepsy and severe food allergies. He has been followed by pediatricians, neurologists, geneticists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, the Regional Center of the East Bay, California Children’s Services, and the school district. He has undergone numerous MRI’s and EEG’s, extensive genetic testing, muscle and nerve testing and biopsies, and ER visits after seizures and after falls resulting from his physical instability. He has participated in special needs aquatics, therapeutic horseback riding, challenger divisions in soccer and baseball, adaptive cycling, special needs camps, alternative therapies and medical interventions, and more. He has been fortunate to have a fantastic team of professionals working with him over the years. He has made tremendous progress, but he still has a long way to go.
Kaleo is a complete joy and is loved dearly by his family. He is a charmer and has been described as his “own ambassador,” drawing people to him and hooking them. Kaleo is who people think of when they hear others talking about enjoying the simple things in life. Offering Kaleo a banana, telling him Grandma is going to visit, taking him for a ride in an elevator, sitting him down in the sand on the beach to watch and listen to the waves . . . these are examples of what makes Kaleo grin, clap his hands, and laugh with excitement. He loves life and doesn’t know that he is any different than anyone else.
Alongside this joy is a boy who is unstable on his feet, prone to seizures, easily overwhelmed by loud noises or changes in his routine, unable to understand the fundamentals of social communication, and unaware of danger, including running into the street, walking off with strangers, stepping off platforms high above the ground, and touching a hot stove. He needs constant adult monitoring and assistance throughout the day, limiting his independence.
When Kaleo’s family learned of the organization 4 Paws for Ability, for the first time ever they were presented with something that could potentially address every single one of Kaleo’s challenges: a service dog. A multipurpose assistance dog from 4 Paws for Ability will help Kaleo be happier, safer, and more independent. The dog will be trained to interrupt his behavior meltdowns and support his sensory needs by touching, nudging, kissing, snuggling, and/or providing deep pressure to Kaleo. If Kaleo wanders away or gets lost, the dog will be able to track him. While walking, the dog will be tethered to Kaleo and will help provide essential balance and stability to help prevent falls. Having a dog will also help improve Kaleo’s social interactions. If Kaleo has a seizure, his service dog will be able to alert adults so that he can receive medical attention sooner. A service dog for Kaleo would truly be a dream come true for both Kaleo and his family.
4 Paws for Ability is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to place quality service dogs with children with disabilities. 4 Paws is the leading provider of autism and other specialty-trained dogs for children, placing approximately 100 dogs per year. They believe that service dogs should be made available to any child with a disability who wishes to have the love, companionship, assistance, and independence that are the result of service dog placement. It will cost 4 Paws for Ability $22,000 to raise and train a service dog to support Kaleo. Kaleo’s family is committed to raising at least $13,000 in support of the 4 Paws for Ability mission and can reach their goal with your help.