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Young Girl with Rare Disease Gets Service Dog

Young Girl with Rare Disease Gets Service Dog


Diagnosed at the age of eight months with neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia of infancy (NEHI) — a disease so rare only 500 U.S. cases are known — little Alida Knobloch became tethered to an oxygen tank for her survival.  Now at 3 years old her parents Aaron and Debbie decided to help Alida by getting a service dog to carry her oxygen.

Service animals are more and more common but Alida’s goldendoodle, Mr. Gibbs, ( a Golden retriever/Poodle mix) required extra-special training, since  his task was particularly challenging.  Carrying two 3-pound oxygen tanks is not ordinary for a service dog.  Alida’s age was an additional issue.  Most trainers will not train an animal to work with a child under the age of 5-7.

Watching a video of the family on the Today show indicates why.  As with most 3-year-olds, Alida’s speech is not that easily understood by a dog.   Even so, Aaron decided to seek a service dog for her.

When doctors told the Knoblochs to move from Utah to a lower elevation they went to Georgia.  As Alida started walking, her dad – who enjoys tinkering – created a walker for her to use to push the oxygen tanks.  Toddlers like exploring and Alida is no different.  Soon Aaron realized the walker would not be sufficient.

When they saw a television show about service dogs, Aaron says “that’s when it clicked.”  They found a trainer, Ashleigh Kinsleigh, willing to work with them and Alida in teaching Mr. Gibbs his lessons.  The family hopes by the time Alida enters kindergarten she and Mr. Gibbs will be a well-honed pair.

Doctors say there is a good chance Alida will outgrow her condition and not need continuous oxygen as she gets older.  So, as he ages perhaps he will retire to a life of simply being a girl’s best friend…

For more information about NEHI and other pediatric lung diseases go to the chILD Foundation (Children’s Interstitial Lung Disease) website.


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Photo of Mr. Gibbs with Alida screen shot from Today Show video

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3:28PM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

Wonderful stories like this are an inspiration! This is one reason I joined Care2 and its a great pick-me-up after tense days.

3:25AM PDT on May 5, 2013

Great article. Thanks for sharing. He is a handsome dog.

8:51AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

Great story! Dogs are fantastic creatures!

1:11PM PDT on Mar 15, 2013

Service dogs are amazing, what a great story

9:36PM PST on Mar 9, 2013

i agree with the concerns that BC expresses. i'm especially alarmed to see that the red neck scarf on gibbs was masking a pronged choke chain! in my view there is NO reason that a service dog should have a choke chain and especially no way that a 3-year-old child should be given control of a leash to pull on that choke. the child has no idea the consequenses to gibbs of the prongs digging into his neck and how tight the choke can get. this appears to be an irresponsible trainer and misguided parents. sad.

11:53AM PST on Mar 6, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

5:57AM PST on Jan 29, 2013

She must be helped

5:56AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

All service dogs HAD to start somewhere and with someone. This may not be an ideal situation, but it's a start in a new service.

3:47PM PST on Nov 15, 2012

Thank you for article.

3:46PM PST on Nov 15, 2012

Thank you for article.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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All's well that ends well. A bunch of amazing people, a beautiful cat and an inspiring story.

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