Jakob Hawkins is on his way to independence with his new dog, Flower.
The 16-year-old has complex partial epilepsy. Since he was 5, he has experienced nightly violent seizures, during which he thrashes around and frequently injures himself. Flower is a seizure response dog trained to help during the seizures.
“She’s a great dog,” said Jakob, a senior at East Valley High School. “She follows me everywhere.”
The almost 2-year-old golden retriever came to live with Jakob, his mom, Kathleen Hawkins, and their two cats, Jasper and Leilani, a week ago in their county island home in Mesa.
Before the dog, Hawkins was the one who woke up throughout the night to help her son during the almost nightly seizures.
“It’s fantastic,” said Hawkins, a single mom of three who works as a massage therapist at a Mesa chiropractor’s office. “She’s bonding well with Jakob and fitting in with the family. She’s got the right personality for Jake.
“This is going to be a huge difference in his life,” she said. “We were really blessed.”
Flower is trained to alert Hawkins when Jakob has a seizure, and to help brace Jakob during a seizure so he won’t get hurt.
Flower can also retrieve a phone if Jakob needs one.
Dog trainers come to the house to train Jakob with the dog, and soon Jakob will be able to take Flower everywhere he goes.
The goal is that Jakob will eventually be able to live on his own with the help of Flower.
“She is my independence,” said Jakob, who plans to get a business degree and open a music school. “This is the continuation in the next step of my life.”
Jakob was approved for a dog in June 2006 by Paws With a Cause, a nonprofit organization that helps match specifically trained assistance dogs to those in need. Fundraising started in August 2006 to raise the $18,000 needed for the assistance dog.
By Christmas 2006, the money was raised.
Ted and Rosemary Newman of Gilbert were big supporters of the fundraiser. Ted Newman is an entertainer who plays the guitar and sings.
He performed at several concerts throughout the Valley to raise money for Jakob, including a November concert at the Farmhouse in Gilbert and a concert at The Wells retirement community in Mesa where Jakob’s grandfather, Mike Boyd, lives.
Rosemary Newman met Hawkins at work, and the two quickly became good friends.
“The need was so great,” Rosemary Newman said. “Kathleen was not getting any sleep at night. This was a dream come true for me and my husband. It’s just a miracle come true.”
Several yard sales were held, and many East Valley groups held their own fundraisers for the dog, including the Arizona chapter of Telephone Pioneers Family Campers.
Just before Christmas, a Gilbert family donated $8,000 to complete the fundraising, which was “like a Christmas miracle,” Hawkins said.
“It was amazing,” she said. “One lady wrote us a check for $7 because that’s all she had at the end of the month.
“It was overwhelming to see all of the help.”
To help the Hawkins family with monthly costs for the dog and the funds needed for a backyard fence, call (480) 734-7778.