By JOE SUTTER
Service dogs aren't just for the blind, and they're not even just for those with an obvious physical handicap. One local family is raising money to obtain a service dog to help their son with symptoms of ADHD and fetal alcohol syndrome.
The 4 Paws 5k Fun Run fundraiser will be Saturday starting at the Rosedale Rapids aquatic center, 1111 N. 32nd St. Check-in starts at 7:30 a.m., with the race at 8:30 a.m. The entry fee is $25.
When Delmer and Ann Michelle Brower adopted their son Kennan, he was 2 days old and the adoption paperwork stated his birth mother had not used drugs or alcohol while pregnant. But as time went on, the boy began showing behavioral problems.
"When he was 2, we started to notice little things," Ann Michelle Brower said. "He'd have temper tantrums, and people would say that's normal for a 2-year-old. But having two-hour tantrums, that's not normal."
When Kennan was 6, Brower read a news story about a child with fetal alcohol syndrome which seemed to describe Kennan perfectly. She went back to her case worker, who discovered Kennan's birth mother had used alcohol, nicotine and cocaine while pregnant.
As time went on, Kennan was given more diagnoses, and Brower continued to research FAS. When she read about a group called 4 Paws for Ability, she decided to apply to them for a service dog.
One of the ways a dog can help is by heading off a meltdown, Brower said.
"The dog itself will be trained to recognize certain cues from us, if we know he's starting to go into meltdown mode, to try and disrupt that cycle so he won't end up in full-blown temper tantrum. With a 100-pound 8-year-old, that can be a little bit scary."
The dog will also lay his body across Kennan in a crisis, if possible.
"Weight for many kids with sensory issues actually helps them feel more safe and secure. This is common for kids with autism as well."
The family is raising money now to adopt the dog.
"We have to raise $13,000, and we're at about $3,000 now," Brower said. "The dog costs about $22,000, but the other $9,000 is taken care of through 4 Paws."
"Dogs respond very differently in crisis than people do. When he's in melt mode, the dog is going to respond very differently than even Mom and Dad. And even though Mom and Dad's love is pretty much all-accepting and all-encompassing, they don't always react that way, but the dog does."
For more information, visit canine4kennan.blogspot.com. To sign up by phone contact Delmer or Ann Michelle Brower at 227-5355.