By Britney Dider-Shaw, Regional Leader – Alberta
A caring K9 serves as full-time companion for two-year-old Olivia, who was born with a brain injury.
Since Olivia was a baby, family dog Deefer, a four-year-old grey and white pit bull, has been a constant companion. The dog rarely leaves her side and constantly has Olivia laughing and smiling.
While the pit bull breed is notorious for making headlines for unpredictable behavior, Deefer has been a steady, gentle friend for Olivia, who pulls and pinches and kicks her furry friend while the dog remains collected and unfazed. Parents Ashley and Kyle marvel at the amazing bond between child and dog.
Olivia has required care since birth. Before she was born, an ultrasound of Ashley’s belly revealed Olivia’s small size was cause for concern prompting doctors to induce labour. Olivia’s brain injury was discovered shortly after birth and she spent the first few weeks of her life on IV. Her lungs were not closing properly, causing her to aspirate.
Ashley and Kyle spent the next six months between home and the hospital until Olivia had G-tube surgery. Finally, the family had the green light to take Olivia home.
Much to the surprise of Ashley and Kyle, family dog Deefer was waiting at home and instantly bonded with Olivia. The dog instinctively came to Olivia’s side and has not left it.
Ashley tells stories of Deefer waking her and Kyle if Olivia cries and when her breathing pattern changes. When Ashley is busy doing chores or steps into the backyard, Deefer is on Olivia duty and keeps watch at her side.
“How and when he became the way he became, is unknown to me,” says Ashley.
Deefer brings out the protective behavior when strangers are around, but runs and hides if anyone raises their voice within the home.
Classic LifeCare provides full-time care for Olivia, managing her complex care needs. Ashley and Kyle trust Olivia is in capable hands with Classic LifeCare, and capable paws with Deefer.
Classic Nursing Supervisor Chloe Kilkenny helps provide care for Olivia and says the relationship between Olivia and Deefer is incredible.
“Every time (Olivia) coughs, the dog paces around and tries to get my attention so I can help her,” says Chloe. “And when the dog comes around (Olivia), her eyes light up and it’s the only time I’ve seen her smile.”