A Service Dog for Kaitlyn
Organized by: Kaitlyn Moneymaker
I have seen many changes as I have watched Kaitlyn grow and mature over the years. As an infant, she had extremely hypotonic muscles (very low muscle tone). She did not sit up until almost a year old, never learned to crawl, and took her first, tedious step at the age of two. I held her up, ignoring the uncaring and often cruel comments of those that were ignorant to her challenges, and have been her backer her entire life. Since she was lacking strength and coordination, I ensured that Kaitlyn was continually involved in physical activities that would enable her to maintain muscle tone. While not necessarily coordinated, Kaitlyn participated in gymnastics, dance and soccer from early childhood through high school, practicing ceaselessly to be able to compete with her peers. At 19 Kaitlyn was diagnosed with Sherman’s Kyphosis and had a spinal fusion to correct the damage that was done to her vertebra as a result of an unidentified birth defect. If physical challenges were not enough, Kaitlyn was challenged socially as well, struggling to find her fit in a world that was just a little bit different that she was. A diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome (an Autism Spectrum Disorder) provided the explanation, but it did not make life any easier. Without regard to her struggles, Kaitlyn was always able to push through and succeed both academically and physically. Three years ago Kailyn took a summer job in Alaska. Despite her obvious struggles, Kaitlyn was successfully living on her own. Enjoyed outdoor sports and activities and began attending college. Then she developed CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) and her once active life began to crumble. Initially the pain was limited in location and was bearable but as time has passed the pain now consumes the lower half of her body and the degree of intensity cannot be described. While being passed from one doctor to the next and having undergone numerous medical procedures, including the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator that had to later be removed as it was ineffective, and a ketamine infusion, Kaitlyn has anxiously awaited to be deemed a candidate for a medication pump that would allow her to cease taking narcotic medications that have provided little relief and be able to use a new medication that has been promising for persons with CRPS. Despite all of this, Kaitlyn was still able to maintain active and independent lifestyle. About two years ago Kaitlyn began having drastic changes with regards to mobility. Where she was once able to run, bike, hike, kayak, ride horses, etc., her legs began to collapse out from under her at unexpected times. Initially it was rare, but as the intensity increased and her muscles became weaker, Kaitlyn’s physicians recommended that she use a wheelchair to help prevent other injuries and to allow her some safety with regards to mobility. At this time she can walk short distances (such as from the bedroom to the kitchen), can walk with crutches on a “good day” such as from the car to a seat for a very short period of time, but must now use the wheelchair 90% of the time and when not at home she uses the chair 100% of the time. This, we are told, is due to a mitochondrial myopathy, something that has probably been “lying in wait” since birth. This loss of mobility robbed her of her independence. Something she has always so keenly fought for. In June of this year I made the decision that Kaitlyn would need to move back home so I could help with her mobility issues. We are working with her primary care physician (who has seen her since she was twelve) to coordinate a team of physicians that can develop a medical plan for Kaitlyn in an effort to improve/maintain her medically and attempt to give her back some of her hard won independence. The goal of all involved being for her to be able to return to independence and her life in Alaska. Throughout all of this, Kaitlyn has striven to maintain a positive outlook on life. She thrives around animals and has worked with animals in previous employment. She put herself through dog grooming school, worked with a veterinary office (animal day care), and has completed and received her certification as a dog trainer. She is currently taking online courses towards a degree as a veterinary assistant. This decision has not come lightly as she has had to let go of her original dreams and create new ones. Kaitlyn’s ability to regain her independent life rests heavily on her level of mobility. A service dog trained to assist with mobility is an essential element in this goal. A mobility service dog would be specifically trained to assist with her specific mobility needs. Imagine yourself standing at a door waiting to go into a store, but having to wait until someone opened it for you because you did not have the physical ability to open it yourself; or looking at an item on a grocery shelf waiting for someone to offer to hand it to you because if you stood up to get it yourself you might fall. These are examples of the more obvious things that a mobility service dog would be able to do for Kaitlyn. A mobility service dog would also give Kaitlyn a chance to have an independent and fulfilling future in a field she has always looked toward, working with animals. Despite having the deck stacked against her, Kaitlyn’s sheer will and determination enable her to continually strive for success regardless of the number of times she has been forced to change directions in her life. Kaitlyn's previous service dog recently passes away and your donation towards a new mobility service dog will open a door for her that would not only give her a more independent and fulfilling life, but enable her to become a platform to spread the word and give encouragement to others like herself.
Any one that donates will receive a picture (of Kaitlyn with her New Service Dog) and thank you note signed by both Kaitlyn and the dog if we reach our goal!