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.

 

Related Reading:

Pit Bull Service Dog Reunited with Disabled Vet

The Magic of Elwood: World’s Ugliest Dog

Autistic Girl’s Service Stolen, Found Dead in Yard

 

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

113 comments

BARBARA BOTTORFF
Barbara B3 years ago

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

Laura Saxon
.3 years ago

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

Elena B.
Elena Bonati3 years ago

Great story! Dogs are fantastic creatures!

Lori Ann Hone
Lori Hone3 years ago

Service dogs are amazing, what a great story

kendra z.
kendra z3 years ago

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.

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Fiona T.
Fi T3 years ago

She must be helped

Louis F.
Louis F3 years ago

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.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.