Guide Dog is Local Boy’s “Superhero”

August 2, 2013

by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

It took nearly three years, $30,000 and a large volunteer effort, but the Salem Lions Club was able to fulfill their goal of purchasing a guide dog for a local boy.

Brady Moran, 9, has overcome many challenges already in his life.  Being legally blind, autistic, and diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome, everyday tasks can be a challenge.

But now Brady is able to accomplish challenges with a new furry friend, Rocky.

The black Labrador Retriever Golden Retriever mix has been trained by Paws With A Cause out of Weyland, MI, to aid Brady and provide companionship.

As part of his autism, Brady can become excessively anxious and has trouble socially, said Heather Moran, Brady’s mother.  Now Brady can spend time with Rocky to ease those struggles.  “It’s a really special thing,” she said.

Rocky wears a service vest in public when assisting Brady, but becomes a regular family dog when it is removed.  “He’s a regular dog,” said Brady, but adding, “He turns into a superhero,” when the vest is put on.

The family flew to Michigan to meet with Rocky and train with him.  Heather said the company wanted to make sure Brady and Rocky would be a good fit for each other.  “They had us go out in public,” she said citing a trip to the mall as an example.

Service dogs for autism are new to Paws With A Cause.  Heather said only about 25 dogs have been trained by the organization for autism patients.

Heather was grateful to the Lions Club for brining Brady and Rocky together.  “The Lions Club has just been unbelievable,” she said.  “We wouldn’t be able to do this without them.”

They Lions Club found Brady during their search to obtain a service dog for a young person with challenges a dog could aid.  Tina White, a nurse at Lancaster Elementary School where Brady attends, put the family and the Lions in contact with each other.  From there, Brady was selected by the club to receive the dog.

With Rocky’s assistance, Brady is more confident in tasks such as walking on the sidewalk and around retail stores, both creating challenges due to visual impairment, but Brady can find comfort knowing he now has a four-legged friend to be by his side.