Meet our Clients that are waiting for a Service Dog.
My name is Lonni Epstein and I am in my mid-30’s. I live with my parents, Bruce & Trudy.
In first grade my teacher noticed that I was having difficulty learning. I was tested and diagnosed with severe dyslexia, auditory processing problems, and ADHD. As a kid I had Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy for about three years. I have always been a big animal person and I got my first dog at age 5, she was a fluffy mixed rescue already 6 years old when we got her. Her name was Gigi and I loved her. From second grade through high school I went to schools for learning disabilities and ADHD. Socially, school was very difficult for me, learning was not easy either
At age 20 I went to culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu in Hollywood. Throughout culinary school I was again feeling worse. I pushed through, as difficult as it was, and I got my Chef’s degree.
Since this time I have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as well as a rare form of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis.
A Service Dog will improve my life because I will feel more confident and gain more independence by helping me with tasks that are difficult for me due to my disability.
In 2016, Justice Walsh was a typical 18 year old with plans. He was set to attend college and study Art & Music. He loved playing guitar. In a flash, everything changed. Justice was a passenger in a vehicle struck by a drunk driver. He sustained serious head injuries that radically altered his plans forever. The doctors’ prognosis was grim, but they could not quantify Justice’s fighting spirit. Despite multiple surgeries and complications, Justice not only survived, he re-learned to talk, eat, walk (with assistance); he relies on a wheelchair for mobility. He continues to enjoy his music and be creative.
His mom calls him “Ironman” for his courage & determination, not to mention the battery pack in his chest to help control seizures.
“I would say what I admire most in Justice is his determination; he never gives up. He has such a positive attitude and cheers people up wherever he goes and warm people’s hearts. The doctors gave him only 3% chance of survival and yet he continues to amaze them and prove them wrong.”
~ Angela Sullivan, Justice’s mom
A service dog for Justice will help him overcome his partial paralysis and loss of mobility. Justice still has plans and the determination to make them happen.
Guiseppe was always an over-achiever–he didn’t just walk, he ran at 8 months old! He was a leader, a Hall of Fame Award winner in junior high school and in high school, a Gold Medalist in Track and Field, and an MVP in basketball.
In October 2005, Guiseppe encountered an unknowing epileptic seizure at the wheel of his car, causing him to crash at high speed into a tree, trapping his right leg and causing a bleed in his front temporal lobe, which put him into a coma in ICU. Luckily, his friends were driving right behind him and witnessed the accident. Before the car could be engulfed in flames, they pulled him out. Thanks to them, he made it out with his life. Guiseppe did not yet know how drastically his life and days forward would change from being a hall of fame athlete, to a devastating injury.
Guiseppe has faced insurmountable challenges emotionally, mentally, and biologically to try to function normally for the last 15 years. He has struggled with lack of mental health support options. In 2019, he was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to the car crash.
Guiseppe, along with his doctors and family, have agreed that the best possible option to help him in his daily crises and a more suitable way to deal with the world would be through acquiring a service dog. With your support, Canine Support Teams can help provide Guiseppe with the desperate help he needs at a time when he needs it most. Guiseppe is hoping to have a life he can look forward to and develop more independence. As he’s stated, “I don’t feel like I am in control of my own biology anymore.” A service dog will help Guiseppe regain that control and confidence.