BENTON HARBOR — Seven-year-old Demetrius Allison Jr. was a joyful child until April, when he started having seizures.
“It was like somebody blew his candle out,” said his mother, Kortney Moore of Benton Harbor. Her son was 6 when the seizures started.
In May, she said her son started having suicidal thoughts.
“(The doctors) couldn’t tell me if the thoughts were a side effect of the (seizure medication) or if they were a side effect of the seizures,” said Moore, a director of the All God’s Children Choir and caretaker for her mother. “It was rough.”
At first, she said he only had seizures at night while he was sleeping, so he stopped sleeping.
“He was afraid because it seemed like to him that every time he went to sleep, he woke up in the hospital,” she said. “So we would just be up until he couldn’t take it anymore and would crash out.”
Then he started having seizures during the day.
“He does have those moments where you’ll be talking to him and he’ll just completely look past you,” she said.
Moore said she saw hope when Demetrius started playing with a dog while visiting a friend a few weeks ago.
“He looked like the kid that I raised him to be. He was smiling and happy and I could just see that this made him better,” she said.
But she couldn’t afford all the fees involved in adopting and training a dog.
That’s when Lisa Gorman-Burton became involved.
Gorman-Burton had a litter of miniature doxiepoo puppies (a mix of miniature dachshund and poodle) she was trying to find good homes for. She said she knew that Cooper was the right fit.
She helped arrange for a GoFundMe account to be set up to pay for the adoption and medical fees associated with a new puppy. The money is also being used for the training Cooper needs to become a service dog, through PetSmart in Benton Township.
The $750 requested via GoFundMe was raised in just a few days. Moore said any extra money raised will be used for additional expenses associated with Cooper.
Cooper, who is 3 months old, started living with his new family last week on Demetrius’ seventh birthday. His mother says she has already seen a difference since Cooper started sleeping with her son.
“It’s only four hours at a time, but it’s still sleeping,” she said.
Which may not sound like much, but she said it’s a huge improvement and will hopefully result in fewer seizures since stress and lack of sleep can be triggers.
Cooper starts his training Saturday.
Kristine Wolf, the animal trainer with PetSmart, said Cooper should make a fine service dog as long as his “parents” work with him between lessons.
“I give them homework to do when they get home,” she said. “I can always tell who doesn’t do it.”
Moore said the staff and teachers at Lake Michigan Catholic Elementary School, where her son attends first grade, have been wonderful.
“They prepared dinner for us a few times and brought it here,” she said. “They were awesome.”
And she said everyone at All God’s Children Choir and Calling All Colors have been supportive.
For more information, Moore and Gorman-Burton can be contacted through their Facebook pages.
Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege