Happy Anniversary to the Best of Buddies

It’s been a year since the Stoneburner family added a new family member to their group and discovered a whole new dimension in four-footed love. In late August of 2013, Sprite, a service dog, brought her warm brown eyes, cold wet nose, and ever-wagging tail to become best buddies with Will, a youngster with Down syndrome.

Will’s parents were interested in a service dog to provide Will companionship and also were hoping she would aid in his communication skills and responsibility. Sprite has far exceeded their expectations. Sprite is a best friend who always looks out for Will. For example, if Will happens to wander outside the house without his parents knowing, Sprite will run to Will’s mom and bark to let her know. She even helps Will get his exercise — she is always up for shooting baskets in the backyard or a bike ride around the track — Will rides while she trots alongside. Sprite works in the special education classroom at school sitting through reading time and once was inspiration for the class art project!

Sprite has served as an excellent conduit for Will’s communication. He is hesitant to speak because people sometimes have a hard time understanding him. Sprite serves as a conversation starter that Will feels very comfortable with. He is more than happy to answer questions about his best friend, Sprite.

In return, Will takes extra special care of Sprite. It is important to do everything you can to extend the good health of a service dog including:

  • Give supplements. Each day after school Will gives Sprite a daily joint supplement (but mom applies the flea and tick preventative).
  • Brushing. Will brushes Sprite each week getting her golden hair all over himself. On more than more than one occasion Will has brought her into the shower, although no one really came out clean!

One of the things Will’s parents have enjoyed about having Sprite is being a resource for other families.

“Everywhere we go, people ask us about Sprite and what she does for Will,” said Will’s mom, Kim. “I think the bond shared by Sprite and Will has been an inspiration for many other families with children with Down syndrome. We are so proud of the example they have set.”

Do you know someone with a service dog?

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