Most little boys would be thrilled to hear they’re getting a dog for their next birthday. But for four-year-old Andrew Tunstall, this dog will be more than a best friend and cuddly companion. Having a properly trained service dog is potentially a matter of life and death for the Arizona boy, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. His seizures can be dangerous and hard to detect quickly, and that’s where the service dog will be invaluable. Specially trained dogs are able to detect such small changes as the smell of a child’s sweat when having a seizure, so that the dog is able to alert other family members that the child needs help immediately.
Andrew’s mother, Kim, said that her son loved the dogs when they visited the Arizona Goldens LLC facility in Mesa to meet some of them, and that he seemed calmer and happier after interacting with them. However, the cost for such a dog is not cheap. With all of the hours of training required and the specialized equipment, the Tunstalls were looking at a price of over $21,000. Although it seemed out of reach for the family, they decided to sign a contract with Arizona Goldens that gave them two years to get together the funds they needed, and with the assistance of grandmother Betty Farnham, they put together a fundraising campaign. They were moving slowly towards their goal when something amazing happened: Kim checked the fundraising account to discover that three different anonymous donors had each contributed $5,000. This amount brought them up to their total, and they are now able to cover all costs outright and bring Andrew’s dog home around his April birthday. The entire family is thrilled and grateful to their community for helping them take the best care possible of Andrew.