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Open Doors - Winter 2011

Phillip the Hero

Phillip

Kaitlyn and SSD Phillip have been having a “fabulous time” all around town ever since their placement, according to Kaitlyn's parents, Catherine and Tom. They've been able to go places and do things that they try each year but haven't ever been able to do as a whole family in the past. Kaitlyn also has a younger sister, McKenzie. They went through team training in October, and have been able to enjoy the holiday season in a whole new way. While you may have seen them on the news as they fight for access to allow Phillip to attend school daily with Kaitlyn, many wonderful events have taken place in the meantime.

One time, they went to McKenzie's school for the Santa Shop and a Christmas Concert. Kaitlyn waited politely in line – something difficult for many children, but especially Kaitlyn! – and when Kaitlyn had trouble she laid down on the floor and asked Phillip to lay down on top of her and apply deep pressure, something she finds very calming. Catherine reports that in past years, she has just had a meltdown or run off instead; this year was a major success! After that, Kaitlyn walked with some friends into the concert – and Phillip walked right past a whole piece of pizza sitting at head level on a chair!

The very next day, they went to Kaitlyn's school for Breakfast with Santa. Some kids, including Kaitlyn, are afraid of the costumed man. The family goes every year, and Kaitlyn has always wanted a photo with Santa but had never been able to be in any of the photos no matter how hard she tried. This year they have a photo of all the kids with Santa – Phillip sat next to Santa, and Kaitlyn sat next to Phillip (this was Kaitlyn's idea!)—and everyone smiled.

Phillip and child pose for the camera

Catherine emailed, “Definitely another of many happy days in our lives to come!!!! I think I'm finally starting to feel like other "normal" parents (for lack of a better word) I'm just a mom with two kids and a dog!! I am enjoying seeing my daughter have fun everywhere we go!!! For the first time in our lives!!!! We shop, go to events everywhere and it's wonderful. I have to be honest, when I started this journey all I could do is hope and pray that a service dog would help Kaitlyn. I knew there was nothing my daughter couldn't do; she just needed a 4-pawed friend to help her do it.”

Sha later emailed us again,

“Sorry just got back from New York to see my mom. It was a difficult weekend. Thanks to my hero Prince Phillip it was the easiest trip we've ever taken. In the hotel we even practiced our search and the big guy did wonderful. Phillip couldn't have come into our lives at any better time. Things are very stresssful for me and he brings a harmony to our home. Last Thursday Phil had his first trip to the pediatrician because Kaitlyn was sick. Let me say again, he doesn't need to do anything other then be the Prince he is and Kaitlyn's life is so much happier. The doctor, who has been unfortunately kicked and had a screaming wrestling child in the past, was amazed and speechless at the calm completely together child she was examining one who she'd NEVER seen before. I just said I don't know what it is about him. Her reply: “DON'T question it!!! And please bring him BACK!!!” It was yet another successful outcome!!!

I will never stop thanking you all for what you do and for bringing this amazing dog into our lives. I admit I need him as much as Kaitlyn because he makes her life easier which in turn makes my life easier and we are all happier!!!!!! Phil is forever my HERO!!!”

SSD Phillip was raised by the Randazzo family and trained by Kara Donohue.

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