Local students launched a contest among their schools to raise money for the family of Stryder Doescher to pay for his new therapy dog as well as travel expenses to get him

by: KEVIN SPERL - Stryder Doescher will go with his family to Ohio to pick up his therapy dog.

For many people, a dog is simply man’s best friend.

For Stryder Doescher, a dog may become an early warning system for brain-damaging seizures.

Stryder, along with his mom Angela and grandmother Beverly, leaves for Xenia, Ohio on Jan. 26 for intensive training with their newly acquired therapy dog.

“Training will be for 14 days, with no days off,” explained Angela. “We will be learning the dog’s behavior and commands and when it alerts to a seizure. We also simply need to know when the dog has to go to the bathroom, since he will be with us at all times.”

Severe Apraxia of Speech; Intractable Epilepsy; Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome; and Landau-Kleffner Syndrome — all of these disease diagnoses have become part of Stryder’s everyday life. The six-year-old has joined an exclusive club that his parents would rather he not have joined. One of only 300 people diagnosed worldwide, Stryder is in constant danger of silent seizures that could result in permanent brain damage.

One freedom he has given up is sleeping in his own bed. Fear of seizures, and the lack of advance warning, requires that he remain with his parents at all times.

For the last four months, Angela has been sending t-shirts to the Ohio-based dog training facility 4 Paws For Ability that Stryder has worn during seizure episodes.

“They use the shirts in training the dog to get his scent,” she explained, “The dog will let us know when we might need to change medication levels.

“Basically the dog will be fully trained when we arrive,” Angela continued. “Stryder and I now have to be trained with the dog.”

Stryder’s best friend, however, may be the entire Prineville community that has come together to raise money to help pay for the dog, as well as the expense of traveling to Ohio.

According to Shelby Duncan, Crook County High School’s student body president, the entire student population of Crook County has pitched in to help.

“We are currently in a friendly wager with all the other schools in the county to see who can raise the most amount of money for the Stryder foundation,” said Duncan, “and as a whole, our school has raised an estimated $1,450. We have shown that, when needed, our community can come together to help.”

Students have shown that pocket change, and even pennies, can make a difference, filling donation jars with almost $150. Members of the Future Farmers of America added another $150 to the pot, while the high school NJROTC program pitched in $250, the student council contributed $500, and the school store gave $100.

“We had to raise $13,000 for the dog, and $5,000 for travel” said Angela, “and, the whole community, and the school’s effort, is helping to pay for it all.”

When the two-week training is complete, the Doeschers will fly back with the dog, welcoming the newest member to their family.

“It’s like having a new baby, with all the necessary food and water,” laughed Angela. “At least the dog won’t need diapers.”

For Angela, life is both complicated and simple.

“All I want to know is that Stryder’s pain is under control, that the seizures are OK and his heart is OK,” she said.

And, what is it like to be on the receiving end of all the public attention?

“The good thing about all of these stories is that there are a lot of eyes watching him,” she said. “It’s difficult and hard. But, we couldn’t do this without the help of the community.”

And, she looks forward to Stryder being able to sleep in his own bed, with the dog keeping an eye, and nose, on him.

To make a donation to Stryder Doescher foundation, visit:

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