Mother Pushes Pets As Way To Help Special Needs Children


During family time around the table, you may not see him, but he’s there.

Wendy Broadhead calls him the security blanket that loves back.

Morgan Broadhead says he’s a canine companion who hit it off with his little boy.

The dog is named Blakelee. He’s a Canine Companion for Independence who came into their home a couple of years ago.

“We did a lot of research about kinds of different service dogs,” said Wendy.

Blakelee is now paired with 10-year-old Camden, a child with Down syndrome.

“Camden had a lot of trouble with speech for a long time and that was what we saw explode for him when he got Blakelee,” said Wendy.

Camden had to say commands clearly enough for the dog to understand, and that gave way to speech improvement.

Blakelee is now in the home to help Camden work through his daily challenges.

“Lack of core strength” means Camden has trouble undressing, but Blakelee is there to assist.

While the child may have trouble fitting into school with his special needs, Blakelee is there to ease the way.

“Other kids are drawn to him and when they're drawn to Blakelee, they're drawn to Camden,” said Morgan.

The pairing has made Camden more confident. His parents say you can see it at the pool where they swim together, on family vacations where they hike and canoe, and  in everyday life.

Camden now has the comfort and security of his best bud, which even makes something as simple as sleeping easier.

Watching her son’s growth has made Wendy a mom on a mission.

She wants all of those positives for other children, so she helped plan an informational session in Union County.

“I've seen great things with Camden.  I know not everyone is an animal lover and it is a big responsibility, but I do think it really brings kids confidence and personality out in them.”

One big plus:  Camden says Blakelee is one of his best friends.

“Because I love him.”