After a chance meeting with another Assistance Dog at a local mall, Tracy and her family knew an Assistance Dog would be perfect for daughter Bella.
Bella has a rare chromosome disorder, so rare that no one else has it. A lot of Bella's life is unknown because of this, for instance, just this year the family discovered Bella has a new seizure disorder. Her condition is so rare that they don’t know what’s coming around the corner. However, one known aspect is called Sensory Processing Disorder.
Tracy explains, "How I explain it is, imagine the sensory stuff in your brain is a cup, every time something happens in your day that involves your senses, it fills up your cup. Once Bella’s cup is full, she can’t handle much of anything. By the time Bella wakes up, her cup is half-full already. So simple, little things you take for granted, like going to the mall, running into the supermarket, or going for a walk are simply too much for her to handle."
Tracy says it’s hard to put into words the difference Anna has made in their lives. Beforehand, it was difficult to leave the house with Bella to do simple, everyday tasks as it overloaded her senses and was unbearable. Now with Anna, she can happily go out with her focus on the dog, visiting the mall for shopping and treats, and being able to ride in the car for four hours (rather than the previous 20 minutes maximum). Autistic meltdowns that used to last two hours now last two minutes with Anna easily calming Bella down.
"The other day I put some money in Bella’s wallet and asked if she wanted to go up to the mall, and for the first time she wanted to go. We bought a few things, took her to a café, picking what she wanted and we had no meltdowns. Being able to leave the house is amazing. I swear we went 6 months without leaving the house except for school drop-offs and it took 2 hours to calm her down enough to feed her. Now she comes home with the dog and does her own thing."
Anna has even learned new skills since being with the family, and is now able to pick up when Bella is about to have a seizure, a new medical development for Bella. The Martin's have had Anna for just over a years now and Anna has become a friend for Bella, who finds it hard to form friendships as she is non-verbal.
"By sponsoring a puppy and supporting this charity, you’re giving someone like Bella the chance to be able to live a normal life and do what normal kids do. The whole family benefit's from Bella too - she is a delightful, loopy dog and does the silliest things that bring the biggest smile to Bella’s face."