After year of fundraising, family finally getting service dog

Family gets ready to pick up service dog
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: 4 Paws for Ability)
(Source: 4 Paws for Ability)

TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) - After more than a year of fundraising and waiting, a Region 8 family is on their way to get their son a service dog.

Region 8 News sat down with the Mason family of Trumann in February 2015.

They were just beginning their journey of fundraising for Cooper's Journey with 4 Paws for Ability.

The organization trains service dogs for children with a variety of needs.

Cooper has Aspergers, a form of autism that his mom, Jaclyn Mason, said can cause behavioral issues, including outbursts and running away.

The idea of a service dog is one her husband Chad found online, and Jaclyn told Region 8 News on Thursday research shows a service dog can help.

"When you really start reading about what they are doing, and we started this way back in 2014, and here we finally are," Jaclyn said.

Through multiple fundraisers and community contributions, they raised the $14,000 they needed to get Cooper a service dog.

"The citizens of Jonesboro, the citizens of Trumann, friends, and family, all over Northeast Arkansas have helped us tremendously, and it's been great," Chad said.

After a year and half, the Mason family will leave for training in Ohio on Saturday.

They will spend 2 weeks at 4 Paws for Ability where they will train with other families and the dog.

Jaclyn said these 2 weeks will teach them so much about how to better handle life with an autistic child because they can learn from other families.

Chad said this dog will really help Cooper with socialization at school and their family get a sense of normalcy.

Jaclyn is most excited to go to the grocery store and out to eat once they bring the dog home.

"Things people with typical children do on a daily basis are very very difficult for our family and we want to be able to enjoy doing more of those things, and I think with this dog, and he's such an animal lover, I think the presence of an animal alone is going to be very beneficial for him," Jaclyn said.

Because they will be away from home for 2 weeks, Ag for Autism donated $1,500 for their travel expenses.

Jaclyn said it will cost around $3,200 for travel, lodging, and food.

The Mason family said they can't thank the community enough for making this dream come true.

"That's really helping our kid, it's really something we can never repay," Jaclyn said.

They leave Saturday on the 8-hour drive to Ohio, and the service dog will get to join Cooper at school in January.

For more information on 4 Paws for Ability, click here for its website.

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