Colten and Ollie
There must be some time continuum that makes the moments move just a bit slower while waiting for a service dog placement. Either that or it is the constant asking of everyone around you if you have found out the dog's name, the dates of placement, or what breed the dog is just yet. Each of these pieces just
makes time stand a little bit more still. If this blog can bring you anything, just know you are not alone, but that every second we spent waiting has been so priceless beyond measure to our son’s life.
It is hard to imagine that we have been on this journey with ASDA for nearly seven years. When we sealed our application shut in the summer of 2014, we were the frantic parents of a toddler looking for help just like so many others in our position. We put all our hope and faith in the submission of a stack of papers and the two and a half year wait that was ahead of us. We didn't know the dog or the people we were resting our son's whole future on and boy that was scary. We have made it to the other side of that journey, not once but twice actually, and that dog and those people turned out to be the best bet upon which we could ever have wagered.
We often say that when we sent that applicant off, we had tunnel vision. We just saw keeping our son safe and anything else was strictly a bonus. After placement and bringing Ollie into our lives something amazing happened. We all got to take those blinders off and begin living life. The tether that connected Colten and Ollie allowed us all to breathe a sigh of relief. We could stop and enjoy the small moments we had been too frantic to notice were even there. The laundry list of things we had deemed undoable were quickly replaced with things we had gone and conquered. The tether was initially a safety measure, but now it is just a physical representation of an unbreakable bond. Colten’s innate desire to run was dampened not strictly by the physical presence of a tether but by his friend. He learned to enjoy his surroundings. He gained independence and use of his voice. He began to see the value in the people, places and things that had once just been objects in his way. He no longer had to run, but instead could be a part of a world he had once felt he did not belong in.
Of course there are still moments when that world becomes too much to handle or navigate. However, when those moments strike the mobility support that Ollie provides is there to guide him back in due course. When his feelings become too much to handle his best friend is there to be a comforting ear and a literal shoulder to lean on. Instead of being handed the band aid I thought this service dog was, we were in fact given an invaluable tool. A tool that has allowed our son to craft a life of his own choosing. Ollie has given him so much more than that application could have ever promised or we could have anticipated. That two year wait now seems like a drop in the bucket to the moments that we have seen these two share.
Our family truly values happiness over all other things. We often say Ollie hasn’t changed Colten but allowed him to be the Colten he always meant to be. These two turn every head when they walk into a room. Not simply because they are a boy and a dog, but because of the happiness the beams from each one of them. Ollie lives for her job and her boy. Colten spends every day with a giant smile. You can hear his giggle echo the halls of home and school. Children and adults alike stop in their tracks to talk to these two. Above all else Ollie gave Colten hope. If given the choice to fill out that application again we would in a heartbeat... in fact we did. Colten’s sister was placed with her own service dog in 2019 after a nearly three year wait. The wait never gets easier, but the moment these amazing dogs came into our lives, the wait no longer mattered and just melted away, and what we have been left with is the gift of a priceless future for our children.