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Update: Success Story! Erica and Baker

Erica Way is a typical all American teenager, with a pretty bedroom full of stuffed animals, equestrian ribbons, and a framed picture of her and her boyfriend from last year’s sophomore dance. And there’s one other thing, her wheelchair.

“People used to stare at it” she says. “But now they stare at Baker.”

Baker is a fluffy muffin of love who greets you at the door of the Way home with all the enthusiasm of a Golden Retriever. Just when you think the kisses will never stop, he turns and trots over confidently to the love of his life. There he rests his handsome head on Erica’s knee and listens as she tells the story of how this one very special dog has brought so much joy to so many.

Erica’s mother learned of CDK the way that many do, on a public service announcement played by a local radio station. She thought of her animal loving daughter’s up-coming birthday, and could think of no better way to celebrate than a tour of the CDK facility. But during the visit, she couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps CDK might offer something else for her daughter. Like all who love a differently abled child, Erica’s parents had spent many hours pondering the hard questions. What will happen as Erica gets older? How do we balance her desire for an independent young adulthood with the risks? And how will we mange our fears of her being somewhere all alone?

Erica herself was not so sure about CDK. Not that she didn’t love dogs, but her mind had been set on a different kind of animal–she was already planning for the day she could move to Florida to study marine biology. But she went forward with the application process, and CDK helped her find a training organization. Finally the day of her interview came. The trainers brought out dog after dog to meet her and all were wonderful, loving souls — some with so much love that they nearly knocked her petite frame over. Exhausted, Erica and her mother were ready to head home when the trainer said “If you have time … there is just one more … one more, kind of special dog I’d like you to meet.”

And out came Baker. Still a puppy at heart, but so gentle and calm that he immediately seemed to have been born by her side. Erica was both smitten and surprised at the intensity of her feelings since she didn’t even really think she WANTED a dog. Then the days and weeks of waiting began. Of course, Erica didn’t know if Baker would make it or not, or if Baker would be matched to someone else. But finally, the miraculous phone call came and after all that it had happened. Baker and Erica would begin training for a life together.

All of that was only two years ago, yet in some ways it seems to Erica and her mother to be just about forever. Baker is so a part of their family that it is hard to remember a time that he didn’t board the school bus with her every day. His picture even appears in her yearbook, alphabetized like all the other students! Baker loves all the people in Erica’s life – her handsome boyfriend, her loving parents, her two devoted brothers – and they all love him. But there is only one true love for Baker and that is Erica.

What does Baker do? Well, in addition to all the practical tasks Baker was trained for (pulling open a door, turning off the bedroom lights at night and most especially, picking up the many dropped items Erica manages to lose her grip on throughout the day) he enhances her independence, just by being at her side. Teachers no longer feel they need to subject Erica to the “buddy system” if she leaves the classroom on an errand. Her parents allow her the freedom to run errands on her own at the local neighborhood shopping plaza, secure in the fact that Erica and Baker are capable of watching out for each other. In a word: Baker is THERE. Always by her side, whether it’s sleeping in her bed at night, riding the bus to school in the morning and snoozing below her desk all day, visiting her friends with her after school, or going to the mall. When she goes zooming down her quiet neighborhood streets, her mom worries just a tiny bit less about her tipping over into a pothole or taking it too fast in front of a moving car. When she is home in the evening she is never, ever alone because there is always a furry face beside her. Sure, he would no more menace a stranger then sprout wings and fly, but just having him next to her gives her family peace of mind.

Erica’s plans for her future still include studying marine biology in Florida, but honestly, adds her mom, “who knows where she will end up.” There is only one thing that is certain. Wherever it is that Erica goes, she will have a devoted — and very fuzzy — face by her side.

By Mia Maccolin

Updates on Erica and Baker
Erica graduated High School in June of 2009, with Baker proudly at her side.

Canines for Disabled Kids is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that was founded in 1998.  We are an education/advocacy group that educates the public about assistance dogs, and assists families in determining if a service dog is the right tool for their child. If so, we will help them to select the best training program to serve their child's needs, as well as assist with the application process.  We provide scholarships to offset the cost of dogs for children 18 and under, as well as advocacy work for all working service dog teams.

CDK only receives private funding, currently from individuals and group fundraisers by schools, civic groups, and grants.   We are a non-fee for service program.  This means we do not charge families, schools, or other groups for advocacy, information, presentations, or any other assistance given. 

As with all reputable organizations, we offer a restricted donation option.  We have our Scholarship program – all donations from this fundraiser will be spent on scholarships for children who are receiving service dogs and have applied to our scholarship program; scholarship requirements are available on our website. Our scholarships range from $250 -$5,000, and are awarded to children across the country.  This money not only helps to remove a burden from the families, but also encourages training groups to train dogs to work with children with a wide variety of disabilities.  

We also have an Education/Advocacy program which includes all of our education programs – we travel across the country providing educational programming for schools, civic groups and businesses interested in learning about service dogs; how they work, what they do, and disability awareness.  This also allows us to reach people who may qualify for a service dog, but are unaware that there are service dogs out there trained to work with their disabilities.  We provide advocacy work for service dog teams working in the public, as well as extensive one on one conversations with families in search of the perfect tool for their child.

Please consider supporting us in our efforts today.  Sharing this campaign is the only way to be successful, so please share away!  We need your help to increase the independence of children with disabilities nationwide!

Team Members

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Kristin Hartness

2 Contributors

$70

Contributions of $15,000 goal

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Campaign Ended on 2014-08-23
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Mallory Anderson

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$5

Thank you ecard!


Get a beautiful thank you e-card for your donation!

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$10

Personlized Certificate


You'd like to support the project and our mission by making a small donation. We will also email you a personalized PDF certificate thanking you for your contribution towards the project. Many thanks!!


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$15

CDK Wall of Fame


You know CDK is great for people and for Animals. When you make a $15 contribution, we’re going to recognize you and your animal by placing both your names on the Wall of Fame on the CDK website. The world will know that you were the first to join the revolution!


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$15

Bead Relief Bracelet and Thank You!


Show the world you care by sporting this fabulous Bead Relief Canines for Disabled Kids bracelet every where you go.  These hand-made beaded bracelets are hand beaded onto an elastic band with a copper BEAD RELIEF tag.  Let everyone see your support, and fashion sense!

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$15

Facebook Shout-out!


Claim this perk and we'll give you a special shout-out in a Facebook photo album we've created just for this campaign! You must "Like" our page on Facebook and your privacy settings must allow us to tag you in a photo, caption, or status to get the full benefit of the perk, but we'll list your name in the album either way.


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$20

Jonathan Adler Harness


1 left of 1 available

Jonathan Adler”Hound Harness for Dogs up to 14 lbs with matching Dog Lead – Aqua


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$25

Fifi and Romeo Gift Bag


1 left of 1 available

“Fifi & Romeo” Gift Bag - Posh Pups Book, postcards and Heart Toy


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$25

Reusable Waterbottle and Shout-out!


Claim this perk and you will get either the Wall of Fame or Facebook AND a special CDK resuable water bottle! Save the Earth in Style!


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$25

Shout-out and Pedigree


12 left of 12 available

Get either the Wall of Fame or Facebook announcement and a Coupon for 1 Bag Pedigree Food for Dogs, up to 20 lbs. Limited to 12


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$30

Bead Relief Necklace and Thank You


Show the world you care by sporting this fabulous Bead Relief Canines for Disabled Kids necklace or wrap bracelet every where you go.  These hand-made beaded necklaces are hand beaded onto an elastic band with a copper BEAD RELIEF tag.  Let everyone see your support, and fashion sense! - 

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$30

Limited Edition Prints - 5x7


Limited edition paw prints from Jozsi or Asha!  Decorate your home in style with these gorgeous "signatures."  Who knows, they may be even more famous someday!


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$30

Fit for a Hero Gift Bag


1 left of 1 available

“Zuke’s” Fit for a hero Gift Bag – 3 different bags of Zuke’s recipe for Dogs, Water Bottle and Bandana


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$30

"Fifi and Romeo" Dog Bed set


1 left of 1 available

"Fifi & Romeo” Pink fuzzy Dog Bed with Black and white poka dot Bed Insert


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$30

Blanket and Toy


1 left of 1 available

Pet throw with Bone shaped Squeeker


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Soldout

$30

Jonathan Adler Collar Set


“Jonathan Adler” Large Collar (15” – 23”) and matching dog Lead – pink


1 claimed

$30

Jonathan Adler set


1 left of 1 available

“Jonathan Adler” dog bowl, placemat and dog Bone toy


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$40

Facebook Star Treatment


Not only will you be on the Wall of Fame , we'll also share you and your pets Story on our Facebook Page! We'll post the story of how you met your special friend in all its glorious detail along with along your favorite photo or two. Your pet is special. Your story is special. Share it with the world!


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Soldout

$40

Pedigree Basket


“Pedigree” Basket -Dogs Rule Towel, Frisbee, dog collar, water bowl, dog treats


1 claimed

$50

Kong Basket


1 left of 1 available

Basket of “Kong”Small Dog Toys & Treats -6+ Toys & Dog Treats by “Kong”


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$50

CDK Golf Set


10 left of 10 available

Get on the golf course in style with your flight of CDK Golf Balls, Tees, and Golf Towel. These maroon and white accessories will show the world that you have been changing the world, one kid and dog at a time!


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$60

Jozsi or Asha Art


Did you know that dogs can paint? (We heard a rumor that the Mona Lisa was actually completed by da Vinci's cat, Morris.) Contribute $60 and we'll provide you with a limited-edition, numbered, and signed print of some art by Jozsi or Asha


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$200

GC for Rustie McDonald


1 left of 1 available

2.5 Hours of Life Coaching from Rustie McDonald of Berwick ME $125.00 Value (must be a local resident)


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$200

Gift Certificate with Michele Lowry


1 left of 1 available

1 Michele Lowry Animal Clairvoyant, Reiki Master/Teacher & Shamanic Practitioner & Diviner Equine Human – Canine , $125.00 Value


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$300

One of a Kind Painting by one of our teams


15 left of 15 available

One of a kind mounted painting done by one of our special Child and Service Dog Pairs. Each painting comes with information about the artists, and a photo. Each is X x X in size, and uses a variety of colors to express the artist's unique vision. Put this one of a kind conversation piece above your couch for all to see!


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$500

Tailored presentation for your child's school


Do you have a child in your life? We will come to their school and do a presentation about Service Dogs, Disability Awareness, how the dogs are trained, and their public access WITH a trained service dog to demonstrate some of the skills we discuss! We will present your child's school with a certificate deeming them Service Dog Ready, and a photo to be taken with your child's class and the dog.


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$600

Photography Session with MIchael Stone


From Michael Stone Portraits- A portrait photography certificate valued at $700, including a family, child or individual portrait session done at your location of choice in New England (regularly $450) and $250 credit toward your portrait selections.

Michael’s portraits are made in a classic style using his expertise of choosing locations and lighting that create timeless masterpieces for generations to enjoy. Michael brings years of experience from the world of film photography, where everything had to be precise at the time of capturing the image, and adapts that precision to creating images that resemble the paintings of master artists. One of only a handful of Certified Professional Photographers in the country, Michael subjects have included Cyndi Lauper, Ryan Tedder & OneRepublic, Indiana Governor Otis Bowen, and the Bishops of the New England Lutheran Churches.

It is Michael’s passion to celebrate and portray the uniqueness of every person that he photographs; to reveal the heart and soul of a child or the love, closeness and relationship of a family in a way that no one else can.

Please join Michael and experience the world’s most stunning portraits.


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