So thankful to Love and to be Loved. On a day that so many celebrate love and relationships, I can't ever stop praising my God for saving me, for loving me, for giving me such a loving warm family, a husband who adores me more than life itself, a man that would die for me, honors and respects me, puts me first before himself, and treats me like a princess. God is good to me. I will not take a moment for granted. I am love with my best friend in all the EARTH, the one I want to grow old with, the one I could not live without, who leads me in love and in truth. When I get an ugly attitude, he always shows me how much I have. I love that he challenges me to use all my talents, minister to others in need, find joy in all circumstances, and points me to Christ for my example. I feel he has been a pretty good example to the kids and I. Mark Harrison, Thank you for always treasuring me the way you do, for being patient with me when I am weak, and most of all thank you for being my solid rock!
So thankful! We were able to raise the entire amount for my daughter's service dog because there are so many people out there that care. Especially in our small community here in TN.
I have never in my life seen a community come together like the Perry County, TN community does. Most of these people never even met me, yet they link arms to do all they can to help. Some people organize benefits, like Miss Martha Mitchener and Poochie Keeton. Miss Martha always collects money at the door to help along with Peggy Smotherman. This benefit we had was truly amazing. All these volunteers have specific jobs. Linda Wheat and Carol Graham work the Cake walk. They make it so much fun and use the most beautiful cakes that countless others have donated! So many hands coming together to make such a difference! Jarrod Richardson and Eddie Holt work hard as the auctioneers at another table loaded up with many gift baskets and other wonderful items donated by kind members of the community. There were gift certificates from hair salons in town, restaurants, auto shops, and other helpful local businesses. It was just exciting to see the auction take place, people bidding on those items they liked the most. It can get suspenseful, yet I was happy some people got crazy deals on items of great value. It was so fun for all. Bobby Parnell and Randy Hickerson made all the delicious food that was served at the benefit from Hogs and Hens. The countless others that donated desserts and cakes, I could not thank them enough. We had plenty to cover our guests. Marlene Tarkington and Owen Newman were running the raffle tables for the amazing prizes that were given away. A gun, a walmart card, a valuable hunting coat, and a gift certificate for Sparky and Ringos were among the raffle prizes given away. It was such a blessing. I mean, wow, local businesses all try to be a part of this wonderfully positive, life giving event. The grocery store donated the rolls for the dinner while other restaurants donated the drinks and the plates! Nothing was missed. Even the inmates of the jail came to help set up, and break it all down. They cleaned it as well.
There were musicians that came to play, Jeff Colon and Linden Music School as well as a very special guest performance from 4 sweet girls from a local church. Their voices were like angels.
I would also like to thank the Graham Family Foundation!!! When they found out that we were still under the needed amount, they stepped in and covered the entire amount that was yet needed! My knees buckled when I heard of the news. These precious people wanted to help our family, a family who is new to the community and have a daughter who has a life threatening disease get a service dog that helps keep her safe and alive! We are so thankful. Many hands make light work! I see a community full of love and compassion.
And we are so thankful for all the many hands near and far that just gave freely, without thought, through the mail, through this Go Fund Me website, and the countess others that joined us in prayer. I am so thankful right now. I see so much good that came out of something bad to start with and a new start for a young lady who can now go to sleep without worrying about her life. Teddy is our guardian angel. Thank you all who have been so gracious to our family to help us achieve this very needed service dog for our daughter. It means the world to us.
As I reflect on the 10 days of boot camp, I feel like my life has changed so much in so many ways. I got to experience the Ripple Effect of one's actions. How humbling it is to see the lives that have changed by this program called Retrieving Independence.
I see the lives of broken men that made bad choices which caused a ripple effect in a negative way. Their actions effected a lot of lives. This program offers a very unique opportunity for these prisoners who took lives to help train dogs that save lives. When you hear them share how sorry they are for the bad that they have done, how they wish they could take back the choices they made so many years ago, you see the redemption in full force. They are giving back. I did not get to meet or see the lives that were hurt by their past actions, but I did get to see the many lives standing in the room that have received one of the dogs that they loved and trained for 2 years, the people that have been impacted in such an amazing way by the ripple effect of doing something unselfish. It is interesting that the prisoners see that these recipients too, are imprisoned. They are imprisoned with some kind of disability—having issues that confine them and keep from experiencing life.
Those that have a disability sometimes feel trapped. Some people have serious health issues that stop them from experiencing the simple joys of life, while others are imprisoned with fear and anxiety. These dogs give people freedom. They give people with disability or fear, a chance for independence. I got to see this amazing redemption first hand. Many tears were shed by all the precious people that feel the ripple effect of this program. They are not afraid anymore, they feel like the joys of life are restored. One family spent most of their child's life at home because he would have 3-4 seizures every day. They could not go anywhere. The seizures were triggered by social anxiety. The dog sensed the seizures before they would happen and was able to calm the boy down. He actually stopped having seizures altogether and with tears this family shared how different their life is now. They can go places, they don't feel trapped, and they have independence again. The boy shared, "Life before Retrieving Independence = BAD, Life after Retrieving Independence = GOOD!"
As we spent our last hours together at the final graduation, I learned that every one of the people that work with the prisoners, the dogs, and the recipients are 100% volunteer. They pour countless hours into this program without making a dime. I found out that 100% of this is non profit, the money raised is for the care of the dogs and the recipients throughout the entire program. There are so many people in the program that do this, not for money, but for the joy of helping others. It is amazing to me all that goes into this program. The breeders, the groomers, the vets, the trainers... The puppy raisers do this because they want to help people. The volunteers who take the dogs home on weekends to socialize them do this because they want to help people. One of the ladies is a PhD in psychology. Her name is Brenda. She councils the inmates while they are training dogs and helps during boot camp to council the recipients. She does this because she loves to help give all of those involved with this program an opportunity to live again. I mean, even the prisoners have a reason to live for again. Leslie joins forces with Brenda in the training aspect. She sees to it that the dogs are ready for the task they were trained for and the recipient for their independence. These people are good people. They have created a program that has such a wonderful redemptive and positive ripple effect for so many lives.
I know that our lives were completely changed for the better. My daughter is a quiet girl. She is shy. So many of the recipients are. They live with daily fears. Some of the pain they experience is silent. Everyday is a gift and they know it. They want to be free but sometimes they are held back from things that are out of their control. Near the end of our boot camp, as we all became more acquainted with one another, Brenda and Leslie asked us how this program has effected our lives. You have to understand, 8 - 10 hours we spent in training for 10 full days caused us all to bond with one another. The boot camp is so long because they know how important it is that we bonded with our service dog and felt confident to go home with all the knowledge we need to make this a success. You could not hold back the tears if you tried. Each recipient had their own story of how their furry friend has impacted their life. Some that were shy and scared to be in places were now going out with the dogs. They were able to talk in front of people and share their feeling like they never have before. Molly, with tears, shared how Teddy changed her life. She told us that she is so thankful because she can finally have independence and a feeling of safety. She told us that she was afraid to go to sleep at night but that she is not afraid anymore. WOW!
All 6 recipients walked across and received their certificate and they all walked out of there changed. They have hope. They have freedom. They can do things that they were not able to do before.
I am praising God. Not only for my daughter and all these many other lives touched by this program but also for my own feeling of safety. As a mother caring for a child with such a life threatening disease, it is hard. Anything can happen. Now that we are home and getting adjusted to having TEDDY here with us, we feel like it is a new beginning. I feel like there is someone always watching, always caring, and always listening to the silent needs of my daughter. Teddy might come down the steps to see what I am doing, but he is on duty. He quickly goes back upstairs to check on Molly. He lives for her. You can see it in his eyes. Molly has a guardian angel. White and fluffy like a cloud, our Teddy is our hero!
Thank you to all who have contributed to this fund, donated your time and energy for our benefit, and to all those that have prayed for our daughter. We can't thank you enough. It has literally been something that has changed so many lives. You have been a part of a very good thing.
I want to promote this wonderful company, RETRIEVING INDEPENDENCE. If you or one of your loved ones could benefit from this program by getting a service dog, please know that this company is one that I stand behind 100%!!! I never promote anything that I can't stand behind with all my heart. These dogs are trained for the blind, hard of hearing, seizure, diabetes, PTSD, for people with limited mobility, and much more. Learn more about service animals and this amazing program by clicking on the image below. Thank you Retrieving Independence for all you do!!!!
I am praising God right now!!!! We were just sitting in class yesterday, when Teddy kept pawing at me like crazy. I looked back at him and he pawed my arm again. I looked at Molly and asked her to check her blood sugar. She did not want to which can be a sign of it being really high or really low, believe me, they get contrary!
He kept pawing me so I told her she better test or Teddy won't leave us alone!!! So she did test and it was 281, which is high! Then she later admitted that Teddy was pawing her first and when she was ignoring him, he actually knew to get me alerted!!!! She then gave herself a shot.
Furthermore, he acted like he wanted a drink so she filled a bowl for him and he would not take a drink. Instead, he looked at her empty water cup and looked at her. I said, "Teddy is trying to tell you that you need a drink!" When a diabetic is high, they are supposed to take a shot, drink some water, and go for a walk!!! Once she took her cup and filled it and started to drink, Teddy took a drink! He waited on her taking care of herself first! Then he stood there with his leash for a walk!!! Can you believe this?!?!?😳😳😳
After she came down later in the afternoon, we were taking a rest up in the hotel room when TEDDY jumped up on the bed and started pawing me again and panting. I immediately told him to ALERT MOLLY! And then he proceeded to paw at her arm and lick her hand. I told her to test and she is still working on cooperating and testing her blood sugar right away when Teddy alerts. When she stalled, he began to paw and lick her hand some more and he just stared at her panting. You could tell he was not going to let her be until she tested.
She tested and it was 67! I told Teddy to get her the orange juice and he went into the cupboard, got the orange juice and gave it right to Molly's hand. She drank only half of the juice and we waited about 15 minutes. In the meanwhile TEDDY was still pawing her as if she was still in danger. And when she tested, we found out that she was still dropping fast (it was lower than before) and if it was not for Teddy we would have gotten into a dangerous situation. For all we knew, we treated that low and she would have returned to a safe blood sugar. Teddy knew better! He gave her more juice and she was able to continue to treat the low until she was safe again. Yay for Teddy! The lows are the worst. The low blood sugars actually starve the brain of glucose which is needed to function, and when the brain is being starved it can make a person very confused, and sometimes worse, they can end up passing out or having a seizure.
I can see that we will be on top of her blood sugars from now on with the help of TEDDY! He is like her guardian angel sent from God!
I am praising God!!! This is such a miracle because it is training Molly to take better care of herself! Wow! Good boy, Teddy!!!!
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