Cancer survivor has strong bond with assistance dogWritten by Julie Rubini | | email@example.com
Tucker is a chick magnet. He’s got long, blond hair, a confident swagger and a sensitive, caring nature that women are attracted to.
He’s very attentive and when called, jumps at the opportunity to be of assistance. He loves to walk and is a great listener. Sorry to disappoint ladies, but Tucker’s taken and, truth be told, he’s a golden retriever.
That doesn’t stop the ladies from giving him a nice pat when out in public with his client and best friend, Tyler Yoder.
Tyler is a cancer survivor. At the age of 7, he was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma tumor that was causing his headaches and sluggishness, unusual for this active youngster. The tumor was removed and several days later, he experienced a stroke, causing him to temporarily lose his vision, hearing and all facial muscle function. Intense radiation and 15 months of chemotherapy followed to try and rid his young body of the disease.
“The treatments saved his life, but the disabilities resulted,” his mom Jenni said.
Now 29, Tyler has been through some pretty tough stuff. He’s had muscle removed from his legs to help add function to his jaw. He’s been placed on hormones to propel him through puberty, because his body no longer naturally produced them. This summer, he suffered from a series of scary mini strokes, causing physical and emotional pain.
Yet, he’s very intelligent, has a great sense of humor, loves sports, has a goal of visiting all of the major league baseball parks and has an incredible faith.
The Yoder family, following dad Tim’s lead, believed it was important to incorporate Tyler into all of their family activities, as well as provide him with an education. He had many friends during his years at Anthony Wayne Schools, and four loving siblings.
As the other Yoder children grew up and into their own lives, Tyler was left behind.
Enter his new best friend, Duke.
“Tim and Tyler met a representative of Assistance Dogs of America (ADAI) while out at the mall one day. Getting Duke at that point in Tyler’s life was so important. Tyler’s speech and annunciation improved, as did his enthusiasm and his social skills. That dog gave him something that nobody else could, because people talked to him because he had a dog,” Jenni said.
Duke was with Tyler for seven years before he died.
Enter the chick magnet, Tucker, compliments again of the ADAI, an organization that serves as the only local agency that cares for, trains and places assistance and therapy dogs with those in the community that need their special care and assistance.
More than 150 clients have been served and the only cost for the dogs is a nominal application fee.
Jenni and Tim have been actively involved with Assistance Dogs of America since benefiting from their services. Jenni initially helped raise funds for the organization, and served as on the board for eight years, the past four as president.
She will eventually return to her true passions, fundraising and creating awareness of the organization.
The nonprofit has grown leaps and bounds, adding new programs, including the successful Prison Puppy Training, in conjunction with the Toledo Correctional Institute. The program not only increases the number of puppies in training, but is also beneficial to the inmates.
The organization has a new executive director and its mission “to help children and adults with disabilities achieve greater independence by training and placing service and therapy dogs to assist with the individual’s daily needs” hopes to be accomplished by moving their facilities to the Ability Center campus, which will be mutually beneficial.
“I am grateful to be able to give back to an agency that is so important to the clients that they serve. We help just a few people, but in a huge way,” Jenni said.
The Yoders will continue to work on behalf of the organization that has given all of them so much. Duke and Tucker have given Tyler a lot more than assistance. They’ve given him unconditional love.
It is the Yoders’ hope that they can help in any way they can to make this experience a reality for the more than 60 people waiting for their new best friend.
If you ever see Tyler and Tucker out in their efforts to support the cause, make sure to pat Tucker, but greet Tyler as well. He’s the real magnet here.
For more, visit www.adai.org.