Fifth Grade can be challenging. Especially if that 5th grader suffers from severe anxiety. Local North County 10-year-old Dakota Smith was suffering from debilitating anxiety and had trouble with things such as sleepovers, school and new situations. So, her mom, Alix, a foster parent for Second Chance Dog Rescue, was beyond thrilled to see a unique bond form between her daughter Dakota and a one-year-old Basset-Daschund mix named April.
Ironically, this sweet mixed breed arrived in April 2018 and was among a group of 104 puppies and kittens rescued from out of state. April was just a day away from meeting her fate at a facility that is not a no-kill facility. Through a serious of events, April ended up in the Smith home, some 4,000 miles away…and that’s when something amazing happened.
“Dakota had lost her dad abruptly, was bullied and had been struggling with anxiety her entire life,” says mom Alix. “But when she was around April, her world changed…she became confident, organized, and more communicative. With April in her life assisting her, she now loves school, has sleepovers and she even went tubing behind the boat. She truly is a different girl because of April,” she added. One day Dakota said, “Mom, April is like my therapy dog. When I have a bad day at school, I come home and lay with her and I feel better.” That’s when Alix began researching the steps to get April trained as a service dog.
Alix had heard about Pro-Train through a friend. She made that call to Pro-Train shortly thereafter. She was reluctant at first to leave April for the five-week stay at the Pro-Train facility…both for her daughter and the canine that narrowly escaped being “put down.”
But the training results exceeded her wildest expectations.
“April is a very fast learner,” according to Saheed Lawal, head trainer at Pro-Train. “This beloved dog learned her commands and learned how to become a certified service animal in record time,” he added.
School is back in session now for Dakota. She has April to thank for a whole new season of coping with her disabilities in a way where she will flourish and learn.
Pro-Train Founder, Mark “Dogman” Castillero, said of this incredible pairing: “We couldn’t be happier for the Smith family and for their trust in our team of trainers.
If you have someone you know that could benefit from a certified service dog, don’t hesitate to reach out to Pro-Train. With over 10,000 dogs trained, the experienced trainers will guide you through every step of the journey. For more information, call us at 760-749-0897. Please pass this along to a friend who may need to hear about Dakota’s inspirational story.