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Give a boy a dog 

A child desperately needs an allergen-alert service dog

click to enlarge A NORMAL LIFE :  Cooper Giron and his mother Christina are raising funds for an allergen-detecting service dog, without which he can’t attend public school or otherwise live normally. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • A NORMAL LIFE : Cooper Giron and his mother Christina are raising funds for an allergen-detecting service dog, without which he can’t attend public school or otherwise live normally.
Few relationships are as special as those between children and dogs. It’s not unusual for a boy to pester his parents to adopt a canine, but in Cooper Giron’s case, it’s not his parents who stand in the way, it’s money. The outgoing, energetic 4-year-old requires an extraordinary dog, one that is not just a friend: one that could save his life.

 

In addition to suffering from severe asthma, Cooper has a unique medical condition that leaves him highly allergic to all forms of nuts and to certain fruits, including ingredients derived from them that are used in lotions, shampoos, soaps, and many other products besides food. Any contact with the allergens could send him into potentially fatal anaphylactic shock, in which blood pressure drops, lungs and eyes swell, and vomiting and anxiety attacks ravage. Such shock does not diminish in severity but grows even more intense at each occurrence; Cooper has already experienced several. Last year, one almost killed him.

 

Cooper’s allergist at the Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara said Cooper’s case was the worst he had seen in a child his age. Cooper never leaves home without his “best friend,” an emergency medical pack containing epinephrine (to counter shock) and his asthmatic inhalers. His parents, Christina and John Giron, want him to have a normal childhood including public school.

 

“He already has so many limitations as to what he can do and where he can go,” said Christina Giron. “The last thing we want to do now is take him out of public school. The important thing for us now is, even though he may not be the best football or soccer player on a team because of his asthma, at least he can go to school with other kids.”

 

But the potentially fatal allergens are common in schools: in cafeterias, playgrounds, and on desks. The only solution, according to his allergist, is an allergen-alert service dog.

 

Like the drug-sniffing dogs used by law enforcement, an allergen-alert service dog would never leave Cooper’s side, warning him before he sits at a table if there are any allergens present, blocking him from getting near. Should he be exposed, the dog would alert a supervising adult and would carry Cooper’s emergency medical pack.

 

However, such service dogs require up to nine months of training and consequently are very expensive: nearly $10,000. The Girons are seeking donations and coordinating fundraising events in the upcoming months, including a dedication dinner at Me-n-Ed’s Pizza Parlor in Santa Maria from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13, where 10 percent of all sales will be donated toward the purchase of Cooper’s. Other events are being planned. To follow the Giron’s quest for a service dog, see coopersdog.blogspot.com.

 

The family has so far raised $3,000 with the help of private donors and such local businesses as KSBY, Cool Hand Luke’s, and Trader Joe’s. When they reach $5,000, the family can finally put down a deposit on a dog from Angel Service Dogs, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization started by a family whose daughter also was diagnosed with life-threatening allergies. The organization will then start training a dog for Cooper while the family raises the remainder of the funds.

 

Donations can be sent to the Giron family at P.O. Box 6962 in Santa Maria, CA, 93456, or through PayPal on Cooper’s blog. Any Chase bank will accept a donation for deposit to Cooper Giron. For more information, contact the Giron family at Cgiron-family@angelservicedogs.com.

 

Fast facts

 

It’s been a quarter century since Jon P. Treder founded a small electrical contracting company with his father. Electricraft, Inc. has since grown into one of the largest electrical contractors in the county. The company prides itself on more than 250 years of combined experience in common—and not-so-common—electrical installations. In addition to large industrial and commercial jobs, the company is available for a variety of electrical services for residential projects. For more info, call 544-8224 or visit electricraftinc.com. …

 

The City of Atascadero is getting ready to kick off a new season of youth basketball. The league welcomes anyone at any skill level between first and eighth grade, with games held Wednesdays and Saturdays and practices throughout the week. Registration ends Oct. 22 for the season beginning Jan. 9. Cost is $70 per child and includes a league T-shirt and a team photo. Register at the City of Atascadero at 6907 El Camino Real or at the Colony Park Community Center at 5599 Traffic Way. For more info, call 470-3426. …

 

The 5 Cities Swim School has announced hour-long water exercise and weight-loss classes for all ages in the 90-degree indoor pool at 425 Traffic Way in Arroyo Grande. Classes are being held on the hour from 6 to 9 a.m., as well as at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. For more information, call 5 Cities at 481-6399.

 

Send your business and nonprofit news to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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