Caylie, a Golden Retriever service dog trained to help the disabled, is 5-year-old Jack Swiger’s new best friend. Lisa and Eliot Swiger adopted him as a brain-injured infant after a baby sitter caused Shaken Baby Syndrome. That is truly an incredibly noble act, as these children suffer irreversible and quite significant symptomatology throughout their lives.
Early this year, the family traveled to a federal prison camp near Morganton, W. Va., where inmates work with paws 4 people to help train service dogs. They’d come to find a dog for Jack. But the strain of traveling made it a bad day. The seizures kept coming, more than two dozen. But the family had come too far not to go through with the process.
The folks from paws 4 people said they needed to see one of the dogs take a special liking to Jack – a “bump,” they called it. That way they’d know there’d be a natural bond to build on. The dogs were friendly, but none showed any special interest in Jack. Then Caylie stopped by.
Before she left, Jack froze. Another seizure. “She seemed very sensitive to it,” Eliot recalled. “She just sat there and waited for him. When he came back, she put her head in his lap.” A definite bump, the trainers said.
Caylie’s been visiting the Swigers off-and-on for months now. She’ll move in permanently within weeks, joining the family’s other two dogs, Maggie, a Corgi-Sheltie mix, and Moe, a golden retriever-lab mix.
Jack and Caylie are bonding nicely, everyone agrees. Summoned to come sit by Jack, Caylie trotted over, sat down facing him and placed a protective paw on the boy’s foot. I’m here, she seemed to be saying. “Awww…” Lisa said.