YouCaring: Bridget's Service Dog | The World From the View of Two Teenage Girls: YouCaring: Bridget's Service Dog

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

YouCaring: Bridget's Service Dog

Through boating, we met Rob and Moreen Karsten as well as their two daughters.  Bridget, their oldest daughter, had a stroke before she was born.  It affected how she copes with the world around her and she is constantly struggling with anxiety, depression, and coping with her environment.  Something that helps Bridget is being around animals.  They calm her down a lot and when in public areas can give her the space she needs to feel comfortable.

Getting a service dog is an opportunity she has been provided with.  They've gone to New Mexico a few times to meet dogs and see how they interact with Bridget.  It is very important for the dog and Bridget to get along.  Right now they are in the matching stage it could take 6 months or so because the dogs need to be trained.

Getting a service dog isn't anywhere near free.  They've had to fly to New Mexico multiple times and will have to go back a few more times yet.  Flights aren't cheap, and generally all 4 of them have to go!  On top of that, insurance doesn't cover the dog, all though donations to the program off set the cost.  They will have to pay around $5,500 for the dog, all by themselves.

Bridget (left), her mom, and her younger sister Gillian setting up for the harbor market!

So, they started making dog toys to sell to off set the cost.  I saw them making them while sitting on the dock and offered to help.  I only made about 20, they made around 300!  This weekend, they went to a farmers market with my family and had a booth.  They were able to sell quite a few, but no where near $5,500 worth!

They recently made a YouCaring site for Bridget, where people can send donations for the dog.  They also have an Etsy page where you can buy the dog toys!  Please check both out, if you have a little bit extra to give, it would be greatly appreciated and for every donation they donate a dog toy to an animal shelter. Buying the dog toys also directly benefits Bridget, and dogs love them!

Here's Bridget's Story:

Bridget is a wonderful young teen.  Unfortunately, before she was born, Bridget had a stroke.  We don’t know why and never will.  It is just something we need to deal with on a daily basis.  The stroke did not affect her intelligence; it did affect how she processes the world around her.  She has a constant struggle with anxiety, depression and coping with her environment. 
As her parents, we have gotten her to best medical care.  Sometimes, this has meant traveling to St. Louis or Minnesota.  We believe there is more that can be done for Bridget and we want to help her as much as we can to lead an independent life and become a productive member of society. 
After reading the wonderful things service dogs are doing for vets, we started looking into the possibility of a service dog for Bridget.  After a lot of research and searching, we located a very reputable training program in New Mexico called Assistance Dogs of the West.  After an extensive application and interview process, which included support from Bridget’s pediatrician and therapists, Assistance Dogs of the West has accepted Bridget into their program.  We are currently working on finding a dog that is a good “match” for Bridget. 
We have already incurred several expenses with multiple trips to New Mexico.  We will need to go back for two weeks of training when a dog is ready.  We will also owe $5,500 as our portion of the dog training.  The rest of the dog fees are covered by donations to the program, but the family is responsible for half of the cost of the dog.  I think this is fair, but still a large expense that insurance will not cover.  Bridget is doing her best to help earn the money watching the neighbors guinea pigs when they are on vacation and dog sitting.  We are all working hard and making fleece dog toys that we are going to sell at craft fairs.  At $4 each, we won’t make $5,500, but it is a start and it shows how committed we all are to helping Bridget.  Also, for every donation made, we are donating a dog toy to a dog in an animal shelter.  If you would like to purchase dog toys, please visit  You may wonder what a service dog could do for Bridget.  Most importantly, the dog will be a constant emotional support and companion.   The dog can help Bridget in line at the grocery store by keeping the patron behind her in line from getting too close and making her panic.  The dog can do the same in a crowd of people by giving Bridget the space bubble she needs.  Bridget’s favorite command is squish.  That is when the dog lays on top of her, this calms Bridget down like nothing else can.  I could keep going, but you can see the general idea.  Independence is the primary goal for Bridget. 

In spite of her difficulties, Bridget has persevered to be a wonderful piano player and singer.  She takes tap dance and plays Buddy Baseball in the summer.  She loves rocks, sewing and playing Mincraft.  She is very caring and creative.

Bridget plans for the future is to become a graphic artist. 
Please help Bridget get her dog.  No amount is too small.

-Cassandra & Katie

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