All month we here at W.A.G.S. 4 Kids have been sharing stories of thanks, of partnership, of achievement and of empowerment. Today is no different. Except, maybe it is. Today, on Thanksgiving, “Thank You” is supposed to mean something more. And so today, we at W.A.G.S. 4 Kids would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. On behalf of our board, staff, volunteers, inmate apprentices and 55 families and children across Northeast Ohio who have already benefited from our programs and the countless more that will – We Thank YOU! We celebrate 10 years of changing lives with you – the ones we could not have done it without. We are the charity that Cleveland grew. There is no us without you.
A Story of Thanks…Friends For Life – Kyle & Molly as told by Mom, Diane Kobunski
“Kyle is non-verbal, non-ambulatory, has seizures and is completely dependent on us. When we saw how he would laugh and smile when a dog was around him, we knew he needed to have a doggie. It could not be a ‘typical’ dog though, as Kyle can be a little rough with his grasp. We knew it had to be a ‘special companion’ that was trained to accept Kyle’s grasp and body movements.
When you have a special needs child and especially one that cannot speak, you have to communicate through eye contact and facial expressions. So, to watch how Kyle’s face lights up and to hear his laugh when Molly comes around him, can bring me to tears on a daily basis. Molly picks up the toys and cloth that Kyle plays with during the day. And Molly initiates a game of ‘tug of war’ with Kyle and a toy, which involves Molly pulling Kyle around the kitchen in his wheelchair and Kyle laughing so much he gets hiccups!”
“There is no better gift to give a child than a fuzzy companion that will be there for them. No words need to be spoken–just their presence–their head on his lap or jumping up and laying next to him in bed. The work and dedication that W.A.G.S. 4 Kids does with these dogs is beyond words! We have been in amazement with this organization since we discovered them and see first hand what a difference it can make in these kids lives.”
In terms of working with the training team to work through any issues or non-issues, Diane confesses “Wendy is tough, she trains us to make sure we know how to handle any situation. Tough love—its all good! Wendy, Ed and Sera, are there for us anytime we need anything. You are literally a phone call away.” Having been one of the first families to receive a dog, when Buddy was first placed with their family in 2005 (retired in 2012), the Kobunski’s are intimately familiar with the W.A.G.S. community and our family-first focus, “Anything you need, anytime they are there to help. The knowledge and dedication to these animals and then to the families cannot be compared! We just need to continue to get the word out about you and you the necessary funding to continue your work.”