Boy's wish comes true in special service dog

Andy Borden met his special companion service dog, Endel, for the first time

November 15, 2013 4:44:16 PM PST
A 14-year-old boy from Webster is facing an uphill climb to recover after battling a deadly disease. But now he has a new friend to help.

Andy Borden has seen his life change in the past 15 months. He survived a cancerous tumor on his spine, but for now he's confined to a wheelchair. It's a lot for a 14-year-old boy.

"All of a sudden learning you're never going to get full functionality back and not walk again, you know what i said to that. That's not the way it's going to be," he said.

Andy plans to walk again. But in the midst of that journey, he wanted something. His medical condition made him eligible for the Make a Wish program, and he had one.

"I started to think sometimes I need help, so I decided I needed a companion of some sort," Andy said.

A service dog companion -- and Texas A&M students train them. But they're provided to nonprofit groups, not individuals. Julie Baldwin is the Make a Wish coordinator who loves a challenge.

She said, "They explained they don't place them, they only train them. But they put me in touch with the MADE program and Hailey, she told me her younger brother had received a wish from our chapter."

Suddenly what would have been a two year wait was down to a matter of weeks. For Hailey Mauldin with MADE service dogs, it's paying it forward.

She said, "We'll make it happen at no cost to Make a Wish or Andy's family, because it means so much to me that Make a Wish helped my brother when he needed it. I want to be able to give back."

A yellow lab named Endel and Andy, the person he'll help as a service dog, met for the first time, with shared affection.

For a year, since he was a two-month-old pup, Endel has been trained to be a companion to the physically disabled. He can help with the laundry and even take credit cards to the register, thanks to his student trainer Sydney Libby.

She said, "I know that Andy's going to love Endel and Endel's going to love Andy. Endel's going to be able to help him in a way no one else can."

It is the first time a recipient, a service dog and its trainer have all met each other. But so much about this story is unusual -- a service group, a university and students who make it all possible, and a young man with a new best friend.

"It's a dream dog here for me," Andy said.

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