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Drive and dedication will get you far in life and with those qualities, it can also be a big help to others in the community. Leslie Lomax, and her husband Lance, have been working hard to give their children everything they can, but when they found out that their youngest son, Landon, had Down Syndrome, they had to think of something special.
“I was watching the Today show back in 2007 and they had a service dog for a disabled child on there. I thought that would be a great way to help Landon grow and be comfortable with who he is,” said Leslie. “I called every place in Missouri that provided service dogs and was told by all of them that they didn’t train dogs for Down Syndrome.” After much disappointment, Leslie continued her search out of state. She finally stumbled across a program called Smeraglia Teddy Bear English Golden Doodles in Alabama. They didn’t have a program set for what Leslie was looking for, but they were more than willing to help with it and begin a new option for children who would benefit from the service dogs.
After many years of back and forth, fundraising, and training, the Lomax family finally got a dog for their son. Landon was at just the right age of five to receive a service dog. They have had their Goldendoodle, Raja, since October and since then Landon has shown great signs of improvement. They now take Raja around and let Landon and Raja work side by side. “It was like an instant connection when we got her (Raja). She just knew who she was there for,” explained Leslie. Raja helps Landon with his fine motor skills, she helps to keep him calm and also, in a way, helps to encourage him to keep going when he no long feels like doing anything.
Landon has received physical, occupational, and speech therapy since birth but the best results have come after Raja came into Landon’s life. Landon has increased his confidence, vocabulary, and social interaction, among many other things since October. “Safety is always a big concern. We have alarms on all the doors at home because Landon likes to sneak out. Most people don’t even think about it, but just standing at a checkout in the grocery store can be a safety issue. They (the checkouts) are placed right in front by the doors and it’s hard to keep an eye on him and load groceries. Now, Raja will sit by my side and Landon stays with her,” said Leslie.
Even though the Lomax family found a great dog that would serve Landon well, they couldn’t stop there. “There are plenty of resources in the city and other areas, but not many out here in the country so we wanted to help others the best we could,” Leslie said. “We started a non-for-profit group call Landon’s Helping Paws that will serve both Pike and Lincoln County. Landon’s Helping Paws is a small group that will help to pair up children with special needs to a service dog that will be tailored to what will improve them the best.”
Their first target is in Pike County, a boy named Rylan. He is just three years old and was recently diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is a condition that is characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by a total lack of insulin. Rylan now has to endure four shots along with five to nine finger sticks every day. This huge adjustment for Rylan’s family has been difficult at times. Type 1 Diabetes is something Rylan will never outgrow. A diabetic alert dog will provide the family with piece of mind while he is with other people and while they are asleep. This amazing dog will be able to smell and alert the family of blood sugar levels out of range 20 to 45 minutes earlier than any blood glucose monitor. This ultimately could save his life.
Fundraising will help to cover the costs of Rylan’s service dog. The next big fundraiser will be Landon’s Helping Paws 4 Man Scramble that will take place on June 8 at the St. Peters Golf Course. The cost for playing will cover food and drinks for breakfast and lunch. There will also be a silent auction and raffle items, if you aren’t a golfer feel free to donate items to the raffle or the auction to help with the cause. You, or your business may also sponsor a hole on the course. For more information on Landon’s Helping Paws contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their webpage at www.landonshelpingpaws.com.