“See this moment?” writes Shanna Niehaus. “I’ve never experienced a moment like this.”
Shanna is describing the moment that her son met his new service dog, Tornado. In a touching photo that has gone viral, Shanna is overwhelmed with happiness as Kai, who has autism, immediately bonds with his canine companion. The dog, who was trained by 4 Paws Ability in Ohio, lies calmly on the floor and Kai rests his head on Tornado’s chest.
The mother and son had just travelled thousands of miles to meet Tornado and after a long journey and a long wait, Shanna didn’t know what to expect, but she couldn’t contain her emotions when she saw what her 5-year-old boy had made a friend.
In her post on Facebook, Shanna writes how Kai has struggled to make social connections his whole life. She says she’s seen her son struggle to make a friend on the playground “in an attempt to have a friend. Any friend. Any kind of connection”. But when she saw how Kai immediately reacted to Tornado, she knew everything was going to be all right.
“This picture captures the face of a mother who saw her child, who she can’t hug, wash, dress, snuggle and touch freely lay on his new Service dog of his own free will, with a purposeful unspoken attachment,” she writes in the post shared by 4 Paws for Ability.
The impact a service dog can have on the lives of children with disabilities can be profound. Although the process to get a service dog can be long, Shana says seeing Kai and Tornado together has made it all worthwhile. “The 4 Paws magic is real,” says the mother. “The wait is long, but this moment right here makes it worth every moment of waiting.”
4 Paws for Ability is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to place quality service dogs with children with disabilities and veterans who have lost use of limbs or hearing.
You can read Shanna’s full post below.
I'm not sure why, but people still ask us why we place service dogs with children sometimes. Let me help you…
Share this wonderful moment with your friends and spread “the magic” that service dogs bring to families.