Boy, 8, gets service dog

By Jennifer Bauer - Reporter

ALVIN, Texas - An 8-year old Alvin boy told Santa this was his best Christmas yet because he got a dog that will change his life.

Michael Evans received 9-week-old standard poodle puppy and he named it Ellie Mae. She isn't just a pet; she's his brand new service dog.

Michael has Asperger syndrome, also known as high-functioning autism, and he also suffers from epilepsy and has seizures.

"We have gotten to the point where we can't go out in public without him getting overwhelmed by the noises, people and the things in the store," said Pam Evans, Michael's mom. "I read that a dog would help keep him calm."

So the search for the perfect puppy began.  The family got help from the Noah's Arc Bayou Sanctuary in Brazoria County.  It's a nonprofit group that not only places service dogs but also rescues and rehabilitates other dogs that would normally be euthanized.

"It's a match made in heaven," Noah's Arc founder Pam Sanidakos said. "It was truly the way it was supposed to be.  It's just so satisfying to know that you're part of that."

The volunteers with Noah's Arc searched high and low for the right dog that would be a perfect fit for Michael and his family. They decided on a poodle because they don't typically shed and Michael has allergies. A local breeder donated the dog and Noah's Arc volunteer Pam Cundiff, will train her.

"It's documented that animals calm people down.  If that's a fact then this should help him.  I'm hopeful that it will," said Cundiff.

The Evans family wants Michael and Ellie Mae to form an unbreakable bond.  She will calm him when they're in public places and when he has a seizure, they're hoping Ellie Mae will alert them.

"Most of his seizures are at night, so we sleep with monitors by our bed and are constantly monitoring to make sure he's not having one," said Evans. "I hope their bond grows to where if he is having one she'll bark and wake us up and let us know something is wrong."

The poodle puppy is only 9 weeks old, but some training has already begun.  It will be at least a year before she's fully ready and, in the meantime, she will live with the Evans family.

"We prayed for the perfect dog for Michael and she just seems to fit that bill," said Evans. "So far we're just becoming best friends with her and she's becoming part of our family."

For more information on Noah's Arc Bayou Sanctuary or to make a donation you can visit their website.  You can also donate through PayPal or send your support to: P.O. Box 307; Liverpool, TX 77577.

Noah's Arc is located in Danbury, Brazoria County and can be reached at 281-330-5238.

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