Give Gabby the gift of Chance for Friendship

Gabby needs a Service Dog.

Gabby was diagnosed with Partial Trisomy 13 (Patau’s Syndrome) when she was 3 weeks old. This disease is a genetic disorder affecting the 13th Chromosome causing significant developmental and physical disabilities. The doctor’s said that her diagnosis was “incompatible with life” and to “just take her home and love her until she dies.” Gabby is now 23 years old!56461514_1619977426176379_r.jpeg

Gabby is a joyful, mischievous young woman that has a sparkling personality and has an amazing sense of humor. She has a contagious laugh that can bring you out of any funk you may be in! Gabby is a social butterfly who enjoys music, animals and loves to be around people. Gabby is non verbal which makes it difficult sometimes to know what exactly she needs which can cause her anxiety and frustration. Can you imagine a life where you can’t get out what you are trying to tell the world and no one seems to understand you? It can be very isolating and lonely.

You may know Gabby from a recent story in which we posted a video looking for a special person to be this special girls’ date for Prom.  This is something that some many young adults do when they graduate high school and it was the one rite of passage that Gabby could achieve despite her diagnosis. The response was overwhelming, she had an amazing night with two awesome young men and she was the belle of the ball!
Everyone wants to be accepted for who we are, appreciated for our uniqueness and loved unconditionally. To live a life with meaning and purpose. To have friends and to be a friend to others. For most of us, this comes naturally as we're able to make those connections in the world, but for people living in the world of complex disability, this can be impossible to achieve.

We all have a good friend. One who understands us without having to say a word. The friend that supports and helps us through life, accepts us for all our imperfections and loves us unconditionally without judgement. This is what friends do. Gabby deserves that kind of love and friendship in her life as well, which is why I am doing this fundraiser. To give my daughter a chance at that kind of friendship. 56461514_1619978948305057_r.jpeg

Friendship can come in many forms, and I have always believed that Gabby's life would be extraordinary if she had the companionship of a service dog. One that would be specially trained to meet her unique needs and health concerns. One that would be her partner in life and also her best friend. One that she could can go out into the community with to show how amazing the bond between humans and animals can be. Together, not only would they be each other’s best friends, they could be ambassadors for those living with complex disabilities to prove that no matter what your abilities may be, everyone has a purpose on this earth.

For many years I searched for an organization that would be willing to train a dog for Gabby but had been unsuccessful. You see, Gabby doesn’t “check all the right boxes” and because of her multiple diagnosis she doesn’t qualify for the traditional service dogs.  Gabby needs a dog that is specially and specifically trained to meet her multiple complexities. She requires an amazing animal, one that is as unique and special as she is.

I found an organization that was willing to take on the challenge. K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs (K-9 CISD)    is based in Meaford, Ontario Canada. They specialize in training many different service dogs including PTSD dogs for First Responders. Laura and her team believe as I do, that just because the type of service dog Gabby needs doesn’t exist YET, does not mean that it couldn’t exist with the right training! Once upon a time, PTSD Dogs, Autism Service Dog or Seizure Alert Dog didn’t exist, now they are well known for their amazing abilities and skills. If we can be successful, we could potentially be embarking on a new type of service dog that could assist people with Complex Special Needs who have historically not been able to benefit from the companionship and support of a service dog.

In the fall of 2019 with the help of K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, a special puppy  was selected and Chance started down the long road of training to become Gabby’s best friend!

He has been hard at work with his trainer Amanda, learning all the unique skills needed to support Gabby medically such as ability to alert to seizures, to help with daily life and to be the best companion he can be for Gabby. In the summer of 2020 Gabby and Chance were able to finally meet for the first time. It was love at first sight!!  The joy on Gabby’s face was amazing!! 56461514_1619978503790187_r.jpeg56461514_1619976826805040_r.jpeg
I began this journey knowing that it would take approximately 2 years of training and fundraising for Gabby’s best friend Chance to come into her life. As Gabby’s mom I was confident that we could make this dream come true for her. That’s what Mom’s do, we try to make dreams come true for our children. Nothing could have prepared us for the one thing that has made this dream seem so far away. Covid.

When Covid came in the spring of 2020, it cancelled all the fundraising ideas that we had. I had hoped (like so many) that Covid would go away, that life would return to normal, but it hasn’t.

Unfortunately, as we get closer to the date that this amazing animal is to come into Gabby’s life (June 2021), and the pandemic continues on, the urgency for fundraising has become desperate. We have managed to put $10,000 towards Gabby’s service dog but still need to raise approximately $20,000 more before Chance can come and begin his training so that he and Gabby will become partners that can give back to the community and live a life together with purpose and meaning with unconditional friendship and love.56461514_161997749394797_r.jpeg

Friends, I know so many of you are struggling  from the pandemic, if you can help in any way to make this dream come true it would be greatly appreciated. If you aren’t able to donate monetarily, please consider sharing on social media to help spread the word.  #gabbyschanceforfriendship


Thankful and forever grateful.

Gabby’s mom



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Shannon Horner-Shepherd 
Port Dover, ON
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