Brain injury support dogs - My story
I would like to formally introduce my service dog, Grace!
She was trained by the best in the country, Wilderwood Service Dogs, in Maryville Tennessee. (http://wilderwood.org) They specialize in training support dogs to help people specifically with brain disorders, also autism, bipolar issues, PTSD, and more. I want to tell you about them and my experience on how I got Grace. This dog has changed my life for the better, and I am so thankful.
When I started to research service dogs I called so many organizations and everyone said: “I can train your dog to be a Service Dog in 2 weeks for $1,500”.
I wondered if this was true. I was afraid I was going to be taken so I thought picking my own pup was a good way to make sure that didn’t happen. I was calling around and found a “puppy breeder”. They doctored the paperwork to sound like exactly what I needed and the information was not even slightly correct. I lost all that money!! Taken for sure.
I was so lucky to finally find Wilderwood Service Dogs. My first conversation was with Nicki, a trainer at Wilderwood whose a mother also has a TBI. An immediate friendship was forged. A few months later I started a two-year adventure that would result in my Grace.
As a non-profit, they have to charge for their dogs, but Wilderwood takes you to step by step to help raise funds and gives you creative ways to help you pay. During my journey with Wilderwood, I got a phone call from Tiffany saying that the dog I purchased was not the right match for me. I was heartbroken but trusted that Tiffany was looking out for my best interests. They matched me with a dog that was so perfect for me–I didn’t realize how much until now. We are 6 months in and we are inseparable. There couldn’t be a better match. The dog I had purchased was matched up with a teenage girl who is her perfect match as well. Everybody wins.
If you've ever considered a service dog, don’t hesitate to start the process. You may find many companies and places who advertise service dogs but Wilderwood is an organization that specializes in Neurological disorders and specially trains dogs for TBI support. They were the only people I spoke with that had personal experience dealing with TBI - Traumatic Brain Injury. I can’t tell you how blessed I am to have Grace.
I am telling you with Wilderwood by your side you will end up with the dog that is perfect for you or your child. It amazed me how Tiffany knew what I needed–before I knew what I needed.
When we first met, my dad and I were meeting Tiffany at a Chili's restaurant to talk about a service dog. As we saw each other in the parking lot, she asked "May I ask what your disability is?" I said "I have a traumatic brain injury." She replied, "My son had a traumatic brain injury". Her jaw dropped and tears were in her eyes. I asked, "How did it happen" and she replied "He fell down a flight of stairs and died." I could not believe what was happening, I rushed into the Chili's because my father was already getting us a table and I said "Dad, come quick, you're missing God's hand in real time!" I believe our souls were meant to be with each other long before we were born.
Tiffany and Nicki have a true gift - I know they can help.
Click here to read about Wilderwood Service Dogs: http://wilderwood.org
Click here to start a Wilderwood Brain Injury Support Dog application: http://wilderwood.org/Inquiry%20Form