We're raising $13,000 for a multi-purpose service dog for Gerren, our 8-year-old son, who was diagnosed with a mood disorder.

“A dog is the only thing that can mend a crack in your broken heart.” ~Judy Desmond~

And there are times when our hearts break for our 8-year-old son, Gerren.

I wrote a little about our experience in a newspaper column:

On the outside, he is compliant, helpful, funny, and playful. At home, he is often defiant, and belligerent. Any number of triggers can send him into a tailspin of spitting, throwing, hitting, and screaming. Forget about mama - when my son ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

You can read the entire column here: http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2011/02/06/62287/holding-on-tight.html

Gerren was diagnosed with a mood disorder at the age of four. Even though we continue to see therapists and rotate medications, the truth is that the minute-to-minute ups and downs are hard to manage. They’ve taken a toll on his older brother, on our marriage, on his grandmother’s health, and especially on Gerren.

At one of our crossroads, his brother simply said, “Gerren needs a dog.”

That Divine intervention led to research on psychiatric service dogs, which led to discovering 4 Paws For Ability.

4 Paws For Ability is a non-profit agency that places service dogs with children who need them, even if as in our case, their disability isn’t always visible. 4 Paws For Ability specifically trains dogs to meet the needs of each child. So when Gerren is triggered, we’ll signal Pickles to interrupt him – go over and nudge, play and distract. That little loving nudge may be just the thing to prevent what could be a two-hour meltdown. That nudge could ultimately help Gerren start to recognize his own triggers and re-direct his behavior.

Who is Pickles?

Well, Pickles is the name Gerren has already given his “calm down” dog. When we’re weary and wondering what our next step will be, thinking about how excited Gerren is about caring for a dog – his dog – gets us excited.

Gerren is such a cool little guy. He has so much personality and gifts to offer this world. We want to make sure he has every tool to help him succeed.

Will you help us raise $13,000 for Gerren’s “calm down” dog? Your donations are fully tax-deductible and will pay for the specialized training Pickles will need in order to meet Gerren’s needs.

Thanks so much and we’ll keep you posted on our progress.

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