Dog Gives Young Boy Special Gift of Friendship

By PetcoFoundation on Mar. 16, 2017


Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Katherine Scardasis won Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue of Houston in Houston, Texas a 2016 Holiday Wishes award. 

Life can be challenging, especially raising a medically-fragile child. So, what joy to see that within minutes of bringing home a five-month-old rescued puppy, the quality of our son’s life was enriched dramatically.

Our son, Johnny, was born with severe Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. He cannot breathe on his own, cannot eat by mouth, has no control over his extremities and only communicates with facial expressions. He must be flat on his back most of the time, which limits the life experiences that typical developing children have.

It dawned on me that most kids want a pet, so we sought a companion for Johnny among rescue dogs since Johnny taught us to be nonjudgmental.

Lexi is a Golden Retriever rescued from Golden Beginnings. Being found severely underweight and neglected, the amazing volunteers got her healthy, and we brought Lexi to her “furever” home.


She charged into our house smelling new smells and checking things out. When she found Johnny in his bed, she went from hyper to caretaker. She gingerly stepped onto his bed, lay down beside him and instinctively put her head on his shoulder.

We were astounded; we did not have to tell her to be gentle or nice. Lexi knew there was something special about “her” boy and that was the beginning of their special bond. 

At first, she took naps and watched TV with him every day, making his face light up, which was something we had rarely seen before she came into our lives. During the school year, when the teacher comes to visit, Lexi always sits with Johnny, paying attention for the two-hour session.

Our little boy loves to watch sports and probably dreams of going outside to play. I’m sure Lexi partially fulfills that dream. They both get excited when they play fetch inside. She brings her tennis balls and gently places one near Johnny’s hand. I throw it. She fetches it but brings it back to Johnny, not me. She piles her toys on his bed until someone assists Johnny with a game of tug-of-war or fetch with her. Such is the unspoken friendship and communication between them.


Johnny must endure painful therapy sessions daily, and the only way he makes it through without crying is by petting Lexi, his constant companion. Resting his hand on her fur, he relaxes, making stretching less painful.

As parents of this precious little boy, it is heartbreaking he has no siblings to play with, friends to interact with and no true connection to anyone other than his parents. Lexi enhanced his life by giving him the gift of a special friendship, for they share an unconditional love and understanding for each other that does not need words. She makes him laugh always lifting his spirits. Lexi instinctively knew our son needed a best friend to make him happy, just as she, and so many other special dogs, need a forever pal too.

Learn more about the Petco Foundation by visiting www.petcofoundation.org.

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by Eileen Jones
‎11-23-2016 11:37 AM

Wonderful dog. 

Wonderful dog. 

Posted on Nov. 23, 2016
by Vanessa Valdivia
‎12-28-2016 03:55 PM

How old is Johnny?

How old is Johnny?

Posted on Dec. 28, 2016
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