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A serendipitous affair...!

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

Nicholas Sparks quotes in his novel, A Bend in the Road; “Where does a story truly begin? In life, there are seldom clear-cut beginnings.”

This story is about a serendipitous encounter that led us right to where we were destined to reach!

I have always believed that our life is the cumulative result of all the choices or decisions we have made; One such simple choice we made was to go on a walk as a family by the Charles River Reservation in Boston, MA.

It was a beautiful summer evening of 2018 and we were just taking in all the serenity of the evening. Just then we heard live music and both my son and I are music enthusiasts, so we obviously turned to go in that direction. My husband walked along because he had already spotted the “brewed beer” kiosk by the arena!

What followed next changed our life in a way we had never imagined!

We sat by the chairs in front of the arena. I remember there was beautiful music playing, but that evening wasn’t about the music.

We noticed this was a charity event. We listened to the music for a while and then decided to explore all the kiosks there. We walked by one kiosk where a man and his daughter were talking. That man spotted us and noticed that our son was walking with the help of a walker. He came over and introduced himself to us. His name was Matt. He told us his daughter has special needs too and he’s in fact there to talk about this charity organization called Canine Companions which offers service dogs for free for children and adults with special needs! This organization actually trains the dogs for 2 years before getting them ready to help those in need of assistance.

Now we had looked into getting a service dog for our son but dropped the idea after knowing the price. The National Service Animal Registry estimates the upfront cost of a service dog to be $15,000 to $30,000. But they can cost as much as $50,000. This price tag may include breeding, raising, training, and placing the dog. So we really couldn’t believe it when he told us that Canine Companions offers service dogs for free! He said, “All you have to do is apply. Provide proof of all your medical conditions and then if you qualify, they’ll call you for a personal interview to assess your needs and then you are put on a waiting list. Once you’re up for placement, they invite you for training for 2 weeks and then you get the right dog that meets your needs.I have other folks helping me here. We have a Canine Companions chapter for New England consisting of people who volunteer to raise puppies, are Canine Companion dog owners. We do our best to spread awareness about service dogs and our organization” and then he pointed to a couple standing there who were helping Matt out.

As soon as we got back home, I went to the Canine Companions website: Home - Canine Companions and downloaded the application and started our application process.

We knew there’s a long waiting list, so we patiently waited. Then came the infamous Covid-19 that engulfed the world in terror! We heard nothing in 2020 and thought our application will not go any further as operations must have slowed down at Canine Companions due to Covid.

We were thrilled beyond words when one fine morning in 2021, we got a call to come over for a personal interview. Lady luck was shining on us again. Shortly after the interview, we received an email that we have been selected to be placed with a service dog. We had progressed to the next waiting list. We again waited patiently. And then in early March 2023, one afternoon when I was sleeping, I got a call from Katy O’Loughlin, the Client Services Program Manager ‑ Applicant, that we are invited to a team training. I thought this was the next step in the process, but Katy sensed my lack of enthusiasm and asked me, “So, are you excited?” That’s when I realized this actually meant we are going to get our dog! I asked her, just to reassure myself, “Does this mean we are going to get our dog?” Katy laughed and replied, “Yes! If you complete the training and pass your exam!”

I wept happy tears and told her this is the best news we have gotten in months! Well, it really was! I had personally relapsed into depression after having had to stop my dog sitting business due to unforeseen circumstances. Getting another dog into our lives and thinking about how much it will help our son pepped me back to life! It felt like the dog sitting business had stopped for a purpose; to make space for our newest family member. Now all our focus and energy would be on him/her and the relationship he/she would build with our son.

We started our training on May 1st of 2023. I have to admit, my husband and I went in thinking we know all about dogs. We already have a pet dog, how hard could it be! But after attending the first session we realized we knew absolutely nothing about dogs!

I am a stroke survivor with a short-term memory loss as residual. My brain gets tired and resets every 3 hours, so I took it slow for the first 3 days, attending the first half and then sleeping in my room for the rest. But 3 days in, I saw all the children and participants with different disabilities attending the training sessions all day, including my son with Cerebral Palsy, and I thought to myself, what excuse do I have when they are all giving their hundred percent! So from the fourth day I attended the full day sessions. The reason I’m stating this is because those training sessions didn’t just train us about dogs, it changed our whole mindset, looking at things in a whole new perspective.

On Day 3, we were pre-matched with our Service dog Dozer, who met our son’s needs. Getting Dozer for ourselves was an extremely emotional moment. We could feel it to our bones that our child’s new friend is a savior in disguise. Our son’s joy knew no bounds. He felt so special that he was the only one allowed to pet Dozer! Dozer was his new fuzzy bear that was all for himself!

On graduation day we met Kate and Bill, who had raised Dozer as a puppy until handing him over to Canine Companions for professional training. While talking to them we realized they’re from Massachusetts too and then an incredible conversation was uncovered. This is where I was amazed at how serendipitous this whole experience was! Kate and Bill were the same couple who were helping out Matt at the first charity event where we got introduced to Canine Companions! Believe it or not, but even before Dozer was born, the universe had already “pre- matched” him with our son!

We graduated from the training and Dozer was officially handed to us. On the graduation certificate, it was written “Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them…”, and I couldn’t agree more! Dozer came into this world for our boy! What a beautiful union it is!

We’ve had Dozer for a little over a month now and every moment has been a joyride! What a well-behaved good boy he is! It gives my husband and me so much peace to see how our son with special needs is blooming each day even more with Dozer. Trying his best to be independent with his best friend helping him all along the way!

Yesterday, June 22nd 2023, Dozer turned 2. We had his birthday candle over his favorite meal; cooked Chicken and rice. He devoured his meal in literally 5 seconds!

Thank you Canine Companions, for making our son’s life so special! Thank you for considering us to be worthy of Dozer!

I would urge my readers to consider donating to Canine Companions who help people like us have access to Service Dogs.

Here’s to making more serendipitous and beautiful stories… Cheers!

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Jun 24, 2023

Great info Meghs! Making me want to try for Devu

Megha Menon
Megha Menon
Jun 24, 2023
Replying to

You definitely should! It would be great for Devu. I saw there myself dogs specifically trained as hearing dogs.

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