When we first applied for a service dog for Tristen, our needs were clear cut. It was mainly about safety: we needed the tethering skills, and the search and rescue was priceless. Ajax was the perfect match, a big teddy bear of a dog who was strong enough to hold his own while tethered, and who's eyes lit up at the mention of the word "track." It was a match made in Heaven, and I still believe this to be true. God sent us the very dog that Tristen needed.
But needs change over time, and the needs of a little boy with autism are no different. Tristen has grown distant from Ajax, and although I try to push the relationship with everything I've got, I'm finally up to admitting that it's just not there anymore. I believe it's partly due to the fact that Ajax's main job was to help me keep Tristen safe, Tristen sees him as more of a protector than a friend. I also think that Ajax's massive size has had something to do with it.
So lately Tristen has been asking for a dog to be his best friend. And it breaks my heart that he won't let Ajax be that. Ajax is forever my hero, and a part of our family. But like I said before, I can't force it. Tristen says he wants a little dog.
And now we've come to the decision part. We have the opportunity to retire Ajax and get a new service dog for Tristen (Ajax will stay with us, of course). A little dog who is trained in behavior disruption, and would be certified just like Ajax, able to accompany Tristen on outings. I have shown Tristen pictures, and he has fallen in love. His name is Dante:
But here's the issue: We will have to make another trip to Ohio for training in mid-October. I can't just run up there and bring Dante home, we need to get to know him on his turf. And to work with him and pass the public access test required for certification. That means a 12 day trip to Xenia, OH. 10 days for training, and then travel time (about 4.5-5 hours each way, leaving the day before training and returning the day after).
There are two things that we need to make this happen. We need money to make the trip. With our recent move, our savings are depleted. We just don't have the funds. Even saving all our extra money between now and then won't cover the hotel room, gas, and food. I hate the thought of asking for donations once again, but I just don't see any other way to get the money we will need.
I will also need to find someone to go with me to Ohio. I'm going to need help with the children, someone to watch them while I attend the training. I'll be 35 weeks pregnant when the training class starts, I won't be able to do this alone, and with the baby due to come so soon after, Nathan won't be able to take off work to come with us. This is what I'm most worried about; What if I can't find anyone to go with me?
I've been praying that God would show me what to do, whether to take this leap or not, and all signs are pointing to us needing to do this. For Tristen.
So please pray. I'm talking about a big leap of faith here. I'm asking for help (which if you know me well, you know this is something I don't do). If anyone can help us, financially or otherwise, please contact me. If you think you know someone who might be willing to help us, please pass them a link. The fact is, we can't do this alone. And I trust God that we won't be let down.