Monday, November 29, 2010


We had a wonderful thanksgiving holiday and I hope you enjoyed yours as well. CORINA took her first trip with us to Matt's parents in Florida. She did great both in the car and at their house. You can see by the picture how well the girls are getting along. They are having a nice nap after thanksgiving dinner. Grayson kept saying to CORINA....'You are not in heaven, you are at Nana's and GrandBob's in Florida' was so cute. Grayson also got CORINA to do a command that I have never asked her to do....'speak'....and yup, out came a little bark! CORINA would do anything for either of the kids and she gives them so much love.

Also, CORINA got two new kitty brothers: Charlie and Boots! They were a little unexpected suprise to our family mix, but as Grayson puts, we are equal: Four boys and Four girls in the house ( I guess he counts the fish as a girl). Needless to say, I was a little worried about CORINA and the cats. The cats were abandoned in a park by our house and my husband brought them home one morning after he saw them two mornings in a row while working out. They are simply, the nicest cats I have ever had....mostly outside cats for now, but they come in at night, have their dinner and sleep on the porch. A couple of gentle warnings to CORINA, but now they go nose to nose and seem to all get along.

Another unexpected surprise was me breaking my foot. CORINA is definitely working for me!! (and Sammie of course).....But, she can help me get things, pull my little scooter (instead of crutches) she is coming back into the office with me, helps pull my clothes off over my cast....she is awesome. Always trying to please and do things we ask.

CORINA is starting to do some therapy with Samantha. She has done OT and will do OT and PT tomorrow. The therapists love her and we are taking baby steps for success with all of it. CORINA also helps Sammie with her bedtime routine, reads books with her and stays with her for a couple of hours at night when she first goes to sleep.....then, as I should have suspected, CORINA makes a mad dash to my bed, where she hops right in!! So much for the dog bed!!!

We just love her and are all so thankful for this amazing gift to our family and the endless hours of dedication given to CORINA to make her so exceptional.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A-Ha Moment

So, they call this time CORINA and I are spending together the 'umbilical'. As I explained it to people before CORINA came, it is the time when we have to transfer the bond from the trainer to me, which in turn, I will transfer it to Samantha, when the time is right.

Well. I was wrong.

I think the 'umbilical' time, is when I get so ATTACHED to this wonderful dog. It was evident this morning, when she and I were taking our loose leash walk through the forest and down the path, came a 110lbs white Shepard mix running as fast as she could towards us. Without thinking, I backed CORINA into a corner and protected her by standing in front of her/blocking the dog coming. That dog would have to get through me first.

Of course, everything was fine...and it was just a crazy, happy, relatively untrained dog who wanted to say hello. I saw her owner shortly afterwards (and of course, she commented on how well trained CORINA if I could take an ounce of credit....which I can't). and she apologized for having her dog off leash and out of control.

But, it was at that moment, that I realized nothing would get to this life-line dog for our daughter. Guess the umbilical is working!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Week 2

Well, we are on our 7th day with CORINA and she is doing great! She and I had some good quiet time over the weekend, only to come back and have all the kids and candy from Halloween in our neighborhood. CORINA doesn't 'spook' at much, so Halloween was no problem. Things she doesn't like too much right now are the school bus and large metal grates in the ground. But, it seems like she is curious about them more than anything and we let her take her time with them.

Sammie and CORINA are becoming quick friends. I was very happy to see Sammie eagerly go over to CORINA and start petting her and hugging her. We have been introducing them in small doses to ensure we start off on the right foot with the two of them. Grayson thinks he is 'junior' dog whisperer and Kyria has trained him well on how to handle CORINA. He knows more commands than I do I think....

I should back up to last week....we had a wonderful Thursday with Terry Henry, Sgt Tully and Kris Ulven. We had the opportunity to attend a Kiwanis Meeting in Atlanta. I thought there might be 10 was more like 200!! Kiwanis does a lot for kids, so I hope Sammie's story can find a place in their organization to help other kids like her. It was sad to say good bye to Terry and Sgt Tully. Sgt Tully and Deja are awesome...he is doing a great job and Grayson and Samantha both took such a liking to him. I know he misses his kids, but I was happy to share mine for a little bit. I think he might be one of the very few people I have met who have a Purple Heart...very impressive.

Once CORINA and I got back with the family, we took some nice walks through the woods and enjoyed our gorgeous Atlanta fall days....then, Monday morning, it is back to work for CORINA and me! She put her fancy jacket on and just knows it is time to be on her best behavior, which she is.....everyone in the office just accepts her and expects her now. I think it will be harder now when she doesn't come....

Have a great week everyone! Keep supporting paws4people. They can't do all these great things without your generous support. It doesn't have to be money (though that is nice!), but your time, energy, PR about the great things this organization does really makes a difference in lives.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 1 - CORINA

Well, it is funny how life can be a premonition of things to come. About 23 years ago, a friend of mine and I took her Golden Retriever to Lenox Mall in Atlanta and 'pretended' she was a service dog. I can't say it was my idea...but at the time, it was an idea none-the-less and we walked through the mall with her imposter service dog (no vest, no credentials) for all of about 5 minutes. So, here we were yesterday, at Lenox Mall in Atlanta and I really AM picking up my Service Dog CORINA! At the mall, I met Terry Henry and Sgt Tully, we had a quick lunch at Panera (of course...the p4p dining room!) and we left for my office. CORINA settled right in. Having the opportunity to get to know her over the past year, has really helped the transition process. CORINA rested calmly on my office floor while Terry and Sgt Tully made a quiet exit. We have about 50 people in our office in Buckhead and everyone is pretty excited to have CORINA here. But, on her second morning here in the office, people don't even notice she is here, she is quietly curled under my desk (Go In and Down). She is happy and seems to be quite peaceful. CORINA had a good night. We all had to fight for space on the bed and we are having an unusual warm spell in Atlanta, but I know when it gets a little chillier, we will welcome the extra 'blanket' in bed at night. CORINA thinks she is a cat. She just curls up by my feet and wants to have a pillow under her head (I wonder who spoiled her the most the past two years?).

Terry and Sgt Tully came for dinner. The funniest part of the evening (and of course, might enjoy this the most), was Grayson asking Sgt Tully if he was in the war, Sgt Tully responded 'yes'...then Grayson asked him 'Well, do you want to watch Battleforce 5? There are good guys and bad guys and the good guys always win'.....Sgt Tully kindly agreed to watch (ummm..he didn't have a choice, I am not sure if he knew that though) and the two of them sat on the couch together, quietly watching battleforce 5, with Grayson's feet kicked up on Sgt Tully's lap.....It was great having Terry and Sgt Tully over for dinner. We really enjoyed having them in our home.

It is so good to have a dog again. CORINA just fits into our busy active life. Samantha is doing great with CORINA. We are re-introducing them in small doses to start on the right foot, but both CORINA and Samantha are people pleasers, loving, and sweet, so perfectly suited with one another and I am so looking forward to watching their friendship grow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


We are so excited, once again, to have p4p in Atlanta. I should tell you a little bit about how and why they came this time...............

so, in January, we were being forced (for lack of a better word) to change one of Samantha's seizure drugs from name brand to generic. Nobody could tell me that the generic would work as well as the name brand, but I was told, if the generic failed ie Samantha has a number of seizures, we could get the name brand medicine back. So, you might be thinking....what's the big deal and typically, I might agree - though you never want your child to have to endure additional seizures, but I am willing to try. Samantha's seizures are typically at night - which is stressful for my husband and me. We have a bed for us in her room and a video monitor, but, it never seems like enough and I always worry. On top of the possibility of more seizures, I was having surgery for breast cancer. It was going to be a pretty big surgery with a lot of time in the hospital and recovery time at home. I knew I wouldn't be my best at, I was thinking and thinking how I could come up with a solution to my problem of possible increased night time seizures AND me not being my normal alert self. So, what did I do? Shot off a quick email to Terry and Kyria Henry and asked them if they wanted to send CORINA to Atlanta and of course, they come too! Potentially, this could be a win for everyone. I did promise warm weather and haven't delivered on that yet, but gratefully, Kyria and CORINA showed up at my door step on a VERY snowy Friday afternoon willing to spend 8 days with our family.

CORINA has been an absolute angel and I couldn't imagine a better suited dog for us. She has been attending Samantha's therapy. They did PT yesterday with Sammie's bestest therapist Jurine (they are all fantastic, but Jurine has been with us since we were discharged from the NICU). They did a great job walking side by side up and down the stairs and practicing other activities. So fun to watch. CORINA loves the kids toys and if we work on it, I bet she will be a big helper during 'clean up'. CORINA is sleeping with Samantha at night and though we haven't had any seizures every day, the bond is growing more and more. I couldn't be happier.

So, a big thank you to Kyria and CORINA and Terry for making sure she got here safely on a snowy day......Saturday, is going to come too quickly when they leave for Charlotte. CORINA is also doing great with Samantha's brother Grayson ( 4 1/2). They are becoming buddies, as well as Kyria and Grayson...... I am hearing rumors of a Steak and Shake outing for Kyria and Grayson if he continues to behave so well with CORINA. Fingers are crossed......and a big THANK YOU to Kyria, for being my therapy during the day. It is so nice to have her company and conversation while I am home recovering.

Have a great day and will catch up on more CORINA happenings this week soon!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Being Thankful!!

Hello everyone! We had such an exciting week last week and it was so appropriate that it was all during the Thanksgiving week! First, as always, we are thrilled that paws4people has entered our lives. I think it will be life changing for our daughter Samantha. So, the start of our busy week - was an always welcome and ALWAYS enjoyable visit from Terry Henry and Kyria! Their special guests this trip were CAROLINE and CORINA, the two goldens who they had earmarked for Samantha's Service Dog.

After a nice dinner at our house Monday, Kyria and Terry came back to our house Tuesday with both dogs to do the bump again. We had done this at the prison back in September and both dogs seemed to like Samantha....I had a favorite, but I won't say who it was. Terry and Kyria played a joke on me and took the collars off of the dogs, so I couldn't be bias....but, it was pretty obvious. Both dogs could bring some great attributes into Samantha's life, but my husband and I felt that one of the two could really provide that assistance we were looking for, which in turn, would give Samantha some of the independence a 5 year old would typically have available...

So ta-da.....CORINA showed a very gently, loving way about herself when she was close to Samantha and I guess Terry and Kyria saw the same thing. We love both dogs, but we really really loved CORINA. Someday...when she is ready, she will be the perfect addition to our family!!

So, from the bump, the dogs got to go to the kids school. Each dog was a mystery reader in Samantha's and her brother Grayson's classroom. The 4 and 5 year olds got to ask lots of questions about what the dog will do for Samantha. Then everyone got to pet the dogs.

At 5pm, Terry and Kyria came to our house for an 'Open House', with special guests CORINA and CAROLINE (of course Terry and Kyria as well!!). We had 26 people over to enjoy their company, learn about the organization and enjoy a big pasta dinner!!! We were all just priming our stomachs for Thanksgiving!!

A sad goodbye to our friends and the dogs. We love having them in Atlanta and can't wait for an opportunity to see them in the near future. We are so very thankful to have paws4people support our mission to have Samantha live the best life she can. This new addition will be a huge help and a wonderful addition to the Leiter household!