As the school year passes and days seem to almost grow longer students often become more familiarized with their surroundings and less concerned with anything or anyone but themselves. Becoming mesmerized by a schedule, it’s easy to forget the intricate workings of the thousands of lives that walk through Timber Creek each day, and the impact they have on their relationships. For Kathryn Campbell and her service dog, Soldier, having a strong bond can literally make the difference between life and death.
“[Soldier] provides consistency and stability for her,” Kim Campbell, Kathryn’s mom, commented. “[Soldier and Kathryn] spend almost 24 hours a day together..[they] are a team”
Trained by 4 Paws for Ability in Xenia, Ohio, the agency uses foster families, college students at the local university and prisoners at a local prison to help in developing the dogs. After training in general obedience and socialization, specifically chosen dogs like Soldier begin learning tasks such as autism intervention, mobility assistance and seizure alert. Taught to meet the specific needs of one person, Soldier has formed an everlasting bond with Kathryn, becoming not only a team, but like family.
“On the rare occasions when she is in an unfamiliar place without him, you can definitely tell she is more anxious,” said Kim Campbell. “He provides her with comfort, and I don’t know what she would do without him.”
Yet, every day may bring uncertainty of it’s own. Depending on how many seizures she is having, Kathryn’s every day life is relative to change. On good days, she gets up and goes to school like everyone else, except that her school day is much shorter. She goes home, watches TV, naps and spends her time with her siblings and parents. However, bad days are “spent in a haze of seizures and rescue medication,” as described by Kim Campbell. “She either stays in bed or on a bean bag or recliner, with oxygen close by. Seizures cause her to lose track of time, and can even cause memory loss.”
Whether metaphorically or literally, one life can save another; even a seemingly simplistic dog holds the stories and power to save a life. Kathryn and Soldier are only one of the numerous stories of lives changed by a single event, a single person, or a single story. Their unbreakable bond has not only shaped Kathryn’s entire life, but has provided consistency for Soldier as well.
“For Soldier, Kathryn is his responsibility,” said Kim Campbell. “Due to her disabilities, there is not much that Kathryn can control about her life…but Soldier is always there.”