A service and diabetic assist dog with life-enhancing skills is waiting for Laurel Raposa on the other side of the country, if she can quickly raise the money she needs.
The 66-year-old Bellingham woman has Type 1 diabetes, is legally blind and uses a walker because of balance issues. She would receive vital help for all three health challenges if she can bring a 42-pound poodle named Holly to Bellingham from where the dog has been trained in South Carolina.
The poodle is in North Myrtle Beach at Canine Angels Service Dogs and has been trained by the organization's owner and operator, Rick Kaplan. Raposa needs to raise more than $15,000 soon to claim Holly.
Raposa is a retired interior decorator.
Question: Laurel, how would Holly help you?
Answer: Holly would serve as a guide dog and also would enable me to get around without a walker. She would also enable me to get normal sleep, since without a dog I constantly have to be aware of my diabetes. She's also a hypoallergenic dog, which I need so I would not be allergic to her. There's an old-fashioned term for what I have - "brittle diabetes."
Q: What does that mean?
A: Brittle diabetes means my blood sugar bounces around by hundreds of points. When your blood count can dramatically fluctuate in such an extreme, life-threatening way at any time, it means you suffer from sleep deprivation. Holly is trained to detect blood counts at all times, so she would awaken me if needed. Of course, I carry a blood meter wherever I go.
Q: Did you have such a dog before?
A: For nine years I had a Bichon Frise named Triston, a diabetic alert dog, but he died of lyme disease three years ago. I've been trying so hard to replace him ever since. My mom lives in South Carolina and met Rick Kaplan at Canine Angels a couple of years ago.
Q: How much does Holly cost?
A: Holly will cost $20,000. I have raised $4,275, but I need to raise the rest as soon as possible, hopefully soon in July. This is because Rick has spent $15,000 out of pocket for Holly while specifically training her for me.
Q: Why so expensive?
A: Dogs trained like Holly are very unusual and expensive. People just aren't usually aware of how much work goes into training them in three different skills. Diabetic dogs are a relatively new development.
Q: What about using Kickstarter to raise money on the Internet?
A: I don't have a computer and I can't use one because of my vision. My vision problems started 17 years ago because of a serious auto accident.
But, sure, I would love if someone would contact me and help me with Kickstarter. I just want any financial help I can get, since Holly would enable me to live so much more fully.
- To learn how to donate to acquire a service and diabetic assist dog for Raposa, go to CanineAngelsServiceDogs.org.
- Canine Angels owner Rick Kaplan can be reached at 917-575-6235 or Rick@CanineAngelsServiceDog.org. His address is 98 Shadow Moss Place, North Myrtle Beach, SC, 29582. Contributions are tax-deductible.
- Laurel Raposa can be reached at 360-393-0156.