Natalie is a joyful and active 9 year old girl who is in the third grade in Monroe County, IL. Last September, Natalie completed a triathlon through St. Louis Children’s Hospital in which she rode a bike, swam and walked with the assistance of her walker. Natalie loves horses, enjoys taking horseback riding lessons and she frequently invites her friends to her home for play dates.
Bentley, a gentle 2 year old Golden Retriever, was raised by Puppies with Purpose (PWP), our puppy raising program at the University of Missouri in Columbia (Mizzou). Dr. Terri Tucker-Warhover, a veterinarian, is the Director of PWP and works with students who raise puppies to become CHAMP Service Dogs-in-Training. Bentley received his formal training and developed his skills through the CHAMP prison program, a win-win partnership with the Missouri Department of Corrections, at a women’s prison in Vandalia, MO.
Julie, Natalie’s mom, describes the special bond that has developed between Natalie and Bentley:
“CHAMP has given our daughter a special friend. Bentley came into our house and added such joy. We love him and appreciate what he is doing for our daughter. He is by her side, always. Bentley helps Natalie by picking up items she needs and he helps her sit more securely on the floor. Natalie wants to be independent, but because she is physically disabled she has to rely on others to help her with everything.
Bentley is Natalie’s dog and she brushes him, tells him where she wants him to sit, and she “tucks” him into his crate beside her bed each night. Most importantly, Bentley has brought purpose and responsibility to Natalie’s life. Their relationship will grow and change and we are all looking forward to it. Thank you, CHAMP, for helping Natalie and our entire family. Bentley is such a gift and we love him.”
Some of our CHAMP clients have extensive medical expenses or other obligations that can make it challenging to pay for the added expense of having a service dog. For this reason, CHAMP created our Client Angel Fund which is available to clients who need assistance with their service dog’s care or medical bills.
Your charitable donations make a difference in many of our clients’ lives, before and after the placement of a specially trained service dog.
Matt, the dad of one of our clients, states
“Our son Brandon has Muscular Dystrophy. CHAMP provided a service dog for him, free-of-charge when he was 9 years old. Now he is 19. He and Hazel are best friends and we do not know what he would do without her. Hazel needs special food and medicine to keep her healthy. CHAMP helps cover the costs for these items and for her yearly exams through the Client Angel Fund. Without this help, we wouldn’t be able to afford the best care and nutrition for Hazel so she can provide the needed services for our son. Thank you for your support of this program.”