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Community support helps disabled girl get a service dog
A North Syracuse is thanking the community for an outpouring of support that helped them improve the quality of life for their developmentally disabled daughter. YNN's Erin Clarke reports.
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NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Eight-year-old Gracie D'Alberto can't walk on her own or talk on her own, but she has a new best friend named Frankie who makes life easier.
"Gracie has a button on her talker that says help and when she pushes that, Frankie goes and finds me," said Gracie's mom, Bethany D'Alberto.
The black lab can also open and close doors and cabinets, press handicap buttons to open doors and get the elevator, but the D'Albertos couldn't have gotten her without the community's help.
"It really felt amazing, felt amazing. I didn't anticipate anything like what had happened," said Gracie's dad, Mark D'Alberto.
In October, the family held a fundraiser in hopes of getting some of the $13,000 needed to get a service dog. By the end of the night, they surpassed that goal and even had complete strangers willing to help out in the future.
"Some people said we'd like to take care of vet bills," said Bethany D'Alberto.
Now, just home a few weeks with Frankie, the D'Albertos say life has changed a lot.
You won't hear much barking or growling out of Frankie. She's specially trained to take in stride what most dogs would react to negatively.
"She wanted Frankie a little closer, so she grabbed her tail and pulled. Her entire body dragged across the floor. Frankie didn't even bat an eye. She says ok, that's my job," said Bethany D'Alberto.
That tolerance will serve Frankie well. She's prepared to absorb Gracie's trips and falls
"If Gracie is trying to move and she happens to fall on Frankie, Frankie stays right there and cushions her," said Bethany D'Alberto.
And she'll even be going off to school with Gracie, where she's sure to get a lot of attention.
The D'Albertos got their dog from 4 Paws for Ability, an organization that provides service animals to the disabled. For more information about the organization, visit www.4pawsforability.org.