A Boy and His Dog

The stories that pull hard and fast on the heartstrings abound during this time of year, the time of year when our charitable sensibilities rise more prominently to the surface in accordance with the season. Every year, it seems, there is the urgent need around which the community rallies to ensure that they, too, enjoy the bounties of Christmas.

Few communities respond to such a need as well as Fairfield County and neighboring Blythewood, where the young and the old, the rich and the poor, from all races and creeds and walks of life come together to lift up their fellow man. This is as it should be; for, truly, when we lift up the spirits of others, we all rise just a little bit closer to the Divine.

This year, that great need belongs to Nehemiah Dandy.

Nehemiah will never, in his mind, be much more than 2 years old. He will never lose his innocence, his wide-eyed fascination with the world or his playful charm, all of which he possesses in great abundance. Diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome more than four years ago, the 6 ½-year-old Nehemiah suffers from developmental delays, intellectual disability, hyperactivity and speech impairment. He is nevertheless a polite, considerate and bright-eyed little boy, blessed with a loving family, a family under considerable stress to cope with a child who, because of his condition, can go for days without sleep. As one might imagine, a child with such a high motor can, unless monitored around the clock, have a tendency to go his own way, to wander off and explore his own curious urges out in the big, wide world. Such a prospect is terrifying, and keeping watch over Nehemiah 24-hours a day, every day, is a considerable challenge.

What Nehemiah needs this Christmas – and what his family is desperate to acquire – is a dog. And not just any dog will do.

Nehemiah’s doctors have recommended a specially trained service dog, to which Nehemiah would be tethered at all times, to guard and protect him around the clock. These highly trained dogs, from Service Dogs for Independence in Tucson, Ariz., aren’t cheap, typically costing as much as $30,000. Nehemiah’s family has, however, made special arrangements to acquire such a dog for $8,000, and they have made some headway into raising the cash. Still, they are short about $6,500.

At this time of year especially, how difficult would it be for those of us who have so much to do with a little less this Christmas in order to better the life of a child? A child who will always be a child, and who will always see the world as a child sees it – a place filled with love and wonder and hope and giving.

If everyone reading this could donate as little as $2.50, Nehemiah’s family would make their goal, and then some.

Make your donations directly to Elizabeth Morris at Service Dogs for Independence, 15900 N. Chapulin Way, Tucson, Ariz. 85739. Tell her it is specifically for Nehemiah Dandy’s service dog. But you can also tell her it is because you believe as Nehemiah believes, that the world is still a beautiful place.

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