Curren was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy – a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle weakness and degeneration.
The 12-year-old boy uses a wheelchair to get around. His trusty best friend,Eclair, helps him open doors, turn on lights, and pick up things he drops because he can’t control his hand muscles to grip objects properly.
Eclair became a part of the Salvati family in August – a wonderful gift from Canine Companions for Independence.
Curren’s mother, Ariane, recalls the application process she and her son went through. “We trained with a group of other people who were to get dogs,” she said. “But at that point, we didn’t know which dog we were going to get.”
When Curren and his mother went to CCI’s Carlsbad training center, they and their group trained with four or five dogs for the first couple of days before getting paired with the best match.
“I was hoping it would be Eclair,” Curren says. “She was really the best dog.”
During the final two weeks, they practiced inside the facility and outside. They tookEclair to malls—where they went up and down elevators. They even took the sweet Labrador to their home at Costa Mesa to make sure she would be comfortable in that setting.
“Everything went great,” Ariane said. “She even got along perfectly with our 17-year-old Chihuahua, Marley.”
Curren’s 8-year-old sister, Ava, loves Eclair. Currant cannot take Eclair to school but they spend a lot of time together at home.
The service Labrador responds to more than 40 commands. She also serves as an “icebreaker” for Curren, his mother said.
“People initiate conversation with him more and his friends want to find out what Eclair can do,” she said. “She makes Curren more social and proud. He wants to go out more now that he has Eclair.”
Image and article source: Orange County Register