CONWAY, S.C. (WPDE) — A family in Conway is working to afford a service dog to help their two-year-old son. "4 Paws For Ability" selected Fozzy Ambrose to receive a Mobility Assistant Dog.
“He is the happiest little guy I’ve ever seen,” his mom, Ashli Ambrose, said.
The non-profit's website describes a Mobility Assistant Dog as one that can help a person who uses a wheelchair or has trouble standing. Ambrose says that’s just what Fozzy needs.
A doctor told the family that Fozzy was born with a tethered spinal cord, which means he can’t use his legs. He had surgery, but that’s only one step towards being able to walk. His mom said the doctors aren’t sure if his legs will ever function normally.
“They don’t really like to say one way or another, because it is a very unknown, and when our neurosurgeon came out from his surgery, he said he saw two things that he had never seen before in his entire career. So, for somebody that does this on a regular basis, for them to see something that didn’t happen before, he was extra cautious to not want to give an answer one way or another,” Ambrose said.
They’re waiting to see if his spinal cord will regenerate and regrow. Ambrose said on Monday, Fozzy was able to stand up for 10 seconds without any assistance.
“The fact that he is gaining these little things little by little is always an improvement. And any amount of improvement, albeit, one-tenth of a percent, is better than regression of any sort,” she said.
Fozzy has intensive therapies with four different people five times a week.
Ambrose says no matter what challenges Fozzy faces, he can overcome them.
“Your life might be harder, more difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. So, I just want him to realize that these are his challenges, everybody has their own,” she said.
The two-year-old uses a wheelchair. Ambrose noticed a neighbor with a therapy dog and started researching last summer about how an animal might be able to help Fozzy.
That’s when she found 4 Paws For Ability. Ambrose says during her research, this was the only non-profit she found that would cater to children younger than age 10. The non-profit explains the dogs are valuable assets because they decrease dependence on other people. The workers specifically trains dogs from birth to accommodate specific situations for each family. Some children use walkers, but Fozzy uses a wheelchair. His dog will be trained to cater to a wheelchair instead of a walker.
“We can even train the dog to help him take his clothes on and off, cause right now he's little it's not a big deal, but when he's 5, 6, 7, 8, he might not want me, his mom, doing so much of that stuff for him. So it'll help him gain some of his own independence,” she said.
Ambrose hopes Fozzy will also find companionship with the dog.
“The emotional support of a friend for him, the companionship, so that he can become independent and also have his own little bit of normalcy is very important to me,” she said.
The non-profit estimates the cost of training to be anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000. Fozzy’s family is required to raise $17,000 to assist with those costs. As of Tuesday, the family says they’ve raised about $6,000. They are doing fundraisers around the community to get to their goal.
“Even talking to all of the moms in the support group, everybody is positive and encouraging and the difference that the dogs make in these children’s lives is instrumental,” she said.
Once fundraising is close to being complete, his mom says the dog will be bred, born and raised for Fozzy.
You can make a donation at https://4pawsforability.org/.