COLUMBIA, MO– A dog is a man’s best friend. Or in this special case, a newly trained service dog is a boy’s newfound savior.
Noah Osborn, an 11-year-old nonverbal child living with autism, sensory processing disorder, epilepsy and other issues, cannot function well in daily life. With issues such as these, a service animal would be a huge help for both Noah and his family.
Arnie and Susan Osborn, Noah’s parents, were determined to find a canine companion for their son, despite the odds given to them.
“Most organizations will not supply service dogs to a person who is not capable of caring for and handling the animal,” said Arnie. “This means that most will not supply a dog to a young child, or a person with a severe disability, such as our son Noah.”
Not willing to accept the norm, Susan researched organizations that would be willing to assign service dogs to the person in need and then name the “handler” as a secondary person. She found 4 Paws for Ability – a nonprofit organization in Xenia, OH, that enriches the lives of children with disabilities by training and placing quality, task-trained service dogs. The Osborns had finally found their answer, and even despite fundraising, the price was nearly insurmountable for the family.
But help came from an unlikely source.
A Divine Intervention
While the family was raising funds for a service dog, they were looking to move to a new property and going through the home loan process with Veterans United Home Loans.
Arnie, a Navy veteran, befriended Veterans United loan officer Steve Kincheloe though their business interactions. Even after the family’s loan had closed, Steve continued to check up on the family to talk about life, their new home and their search for a service dog. He knew that Veterans United was in a unique position to help.
“I knew we could possibly do much more than just a small donation … why not make it happen now rather than months or possibly years down the road?” said Steve.
Soon after, Veterans United Foundation stepped in.
“One day, we were contacted by Veterans United Foundation Communications Coordinator, Lindsey Sells, offering assistance in our fundraising efforts to obtain a service dog for our son,” said Arnie. “At this point, I realized that our dealings with Steve and Veterans United were a divine intervention.”
The Journey Begins
Veterans United Foundation’s generous donation covered the costs associated with raising, training and housing the newest member of the Osborn Family, Saxby, – a 13-month-old Golden Lab trained in search and rescue, behavior disruption, seizure alerts, and more.
The family traveled 9 hours by car and spent 14 days training with Saxby, through countless drills, games and commands. Within a week of arriving at his home in North Carolina, Noah actively sought Saxby’s companionship and continuously interacted with him. As their friendship progressed, Noah grew comfortable with being tethered to Saxby in various social settings, allowing new freedom to safely explore with his service dog.
Better yet, Susan and Arnie have been able to “stress less” about Noah’s tendency to wander, since he is constantly being monitored and protected by Saxby.
“In less than a week, Saxby has changed life for each one of us,” said Susan. “We want to offer our heartfelt gratitude to Veterans United Foundation, Steve, Lindsey, and everyone else involved in this life-changing miracle.”