Groups of students excitedly took their places along the bleachers in the gym on Monday eager to get a look at their furry visitor, Blaze, a service dog of young Lindsey Parete who came to visit, along with her mom Karen, to teach the students about what dogs like Blaze can do.
a Hasbrouck Heights based organization founded by Michele and Tom Meli, which supports an organization called Canine Assistants which breeds and trains these dogs to assist children in need, brought Blaze and his family to the school. In honor of spirit day, the first official day of Catholic Schools Week, the student wore blue in support of Mickey’s Kids and green in support of Canine Assistants.
Michele Meli spoke of her late dog Mickey, who the foundation is named for, telling them about the birthday parties they would throw for him where one time they had as many as 20 of Mickey’s canine friends swimming in their pool.
Blaze comfortably took his place on the gym floor right at Lindsey's feet as her mom explained how she came to live with their family. Karen told the students Lindsey is just like any other fourth grade student who likes to play soccer and basketball but she was born with something different. Lindsey has epilepsy. Her mother explained that it is what happens when the two sides of the brain have trouble communicating with one another and the messages get jammed shutting down the muscle functioning causing a seizure.
She explained to the students that Blaze is trained by Canine Assistants to detect when Lindsey may have a seizure. Thankfully she has not had one in three years, her mother said. Blaze can definitely sense when something is wrong by the sense of smell as he is trained to pick up on different biological chemicals.
There was one instance when Lindsey began to develop a fever while she was asleep and Blaze began barking to alert the rest of the family, her mother explained. A fever can be an onset of a seizure in a person with epilepsy and Blaze knows how to pick up such signs in order to protect her.
The students learned about how Lindsey and her mother went to Atlanta, Georgia to meet Blaze. The children don’t pick the dogs, the dogs pick the children, Karen explained. She recalled the first meeting with the dogs where once Blaze met Lindsey he would not leave her side. The two were fast friends.
The students wanted to know everything about Blaze and Lindsey from whether she can sit in class with her, to asking if she can ride on an airplane. Blaze can go everywhere Lindsey can go including on an airplane where she is allowed to sit with her in the cabin, not below deck. Karen said there are only two places where dogs like Blaze are not allows and that is the hospital emergency room and delivery room.
At school, Blaze accompanies Lindsey just about everywhere except for lunch, gym class and recess and that is to keep the dog from possibly getting hurt as she may accidentally eat something she isn’t supposed to in a cafeteria or would be too anxious just sitting at the sidelines while Lindsey takes part in an activity.
Corpus Christi School also took a collection on Monday to help benefit Mickey's Kids which is working towards its goal of raising $25,000 to fund the cost of a dog for a youngster in need.
Last year the foundation raised $32,000 which enabled Canine Assistants to .
Mickey’s Kids annual gala event will be held March 16 at Il Villagio in Carlstadt with proceeds benefitting Canine Assistants. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.