Boy’s Best Friend
A military Aid Program Joins a Special-Needs Teen with a Four-Legged Support System
By Barbara Clark, The Kitsap Sun
Despite his youth, Falcon takes his work seriously. The 21-month-old, 70-pound dog is the picture of decorum when strangers step up. He knows better than to jump on them, wag his tail ferociously or — heaven forbid — bark. That makes the strangers smile even more at the handsome golden retriever.But when his 14-year-old master, Alex Carion, says it’s OK, Falcon shows he’s still a puppy. He stands on his long hind legs and gently puts his forepaws on Alex’s shoulder. And that brings a smile to the face of the quiet teen.
Alex, a ninth-grader in regular classes at Poulsbo Junior High, has a rare congenital neurological disorder, cerebral hypoplasia. It causes balance problems and makes him prone to falls, as well as affects his speech. When Falcon is outfitted with a walking harness, Alex literally can lean on his new friend for support.If it weren’t for the Combined Federal Campaign, the military equivalent of United Way, Alex might not have Falcon’s help and companionship. CFC contributes to Canine Assistants of Alpharetta, Ga., where the Carion family got the dog about a month ago. They also qualified for a “military scholarship” from the national military commissary system and the company Milk-Bone. The cost of breeding and training each dog averages $15,000.