Devin Palacios lives with his parents, Renee and Joshua, and brother Austin, in Blissfield, Michigan. Their home is filled with love and laughter and moments spent as a family. Like most typical young boys, swimming, playing with monster trucks, playing video games, and going to the park to run were some of Devin’s favorite things.
Devin’s mom shares, “He can be shy and has a lot of anxiety that disrupts his quality of life. Going to the dentist and the doctor is extremely traumatic for him. Bedtime also is difficult and many times he either cries himself to sleep saying he “misses Momma '' or he sleeps in our (parents) bed. This has been ongoing for months, affecting our entire family.
Devin struggles with sensory filled activities. Just taking a walk can be a challenge as he is afraid of anything (bugs) that fly. This has restricted much of our ability to do things together as a family. Another sensory challenge is rain. Devin panics when wet.”
When Sarah, a half lab, half golden retriever obtained from Paws with Purpose in Louisville, Kentucky became part of the Palacios family in 2019, the family experienced a new way of life.
His mom explains, “Devin now has a subject to talk about with his friends at school (his dog) that is appropriate in all conversation. If Devin got lost in conversation, he would pick a random topic, that would "turn off" his friends (i.e. dinosaurs, bananas, etc.) Due to his deep relationship with Sarah, he now has a great topic of conversation that is socially acceptable and he speaks with confidence is the ideas, thoughts and opinions that he shares about Sarah. This has grown his relationships with friends, x10.
Devin receives so much emotional support from Sarah. Devin knows she is waiting for him when he gets home from camp or school and that brings out so much JOY! Being a fully trained Therapy Dog, she is patient and kind, allowing the relationship to grow. A "regular dog" would be frustrating to Devin. Sarah is the loyal, non-judgmental friend he's never had. Some people or peers are nervous to interact with Devin - they are unsure what to say or how to say it, having Sarah by his side decreases their nerves as Sarah is the "bridge" in the relationship. People/peers are drawn to Sarah and therefore, drawn to Devin. This has increased his feeling of being accepted and valued, as a person. He has a positive reason to feel "special," not because he is a person with a disability, but because he is a person with a really cool, therapy dog!”