GEORGIA & COURGETTE

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER

GEORGIA’S STORY

Meet Georgia, an Auburn High School senior who dreams of going to college to study Veterinary Medicine.

As a child, Georgia had a myriad of stomach issues and “growing pains” that doctors couldn’t explain. For nights on end, Georgia would wake up, crying in pain. Now, she doesn’t remember a time without feeling pain.

Eventually, Georgia began to fall significantly behind the average growth curve for her age resulting in the ambiguous diagnosis of “failure to thrive.” Her stomach issues were attributed to ulcers, yet even after treatment, the chronic stomach issues persisted.

After years of tests and meeting with specialists, Georgia still didn’t have any answers or sufficient diagnosis.

Finding answers for Georgia’s chronic pain came through dancing. Georgia began ballet lessons when she was 5 years old. She eventually joined a competition team. However, as she got older, Georgia started experiencing pain beyond typical muscle and joint fatigue from dancing. Her joints would often pop out of place, sometimes leaving her limping for days. In a conversation with her neighbor, she was showing off the heightened flexibility of her joints and joked about “probably having some weird stretchy joint disease.”

That night, her neighbor told her about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and changed her life. Later on, doctors diagnosed Georgia with EDS.

In Spring 2018, Georgia had surgery on her hip due to the failure of cartilage caused by EDS. She spent the summer and much of her junior year in a wheelchair. With the help of months of physical therapy, Georgia was able to dance in her 2019 Spring Recital.

This summer, Georgia had hernia surgery as a result of her EDS and then was hospitalized again in September for several days with costochondritis, severe infection, and internal bleeding in her abdominal cavity. All of this has left Georgia homebound, missing out on much of her first semester of her senior year of high school.

Georgia’s family decided the Roverchase Service Dog School was the best option to help Georgia become independent as she goes onto college.

At the beginning of November, Abigail Witthauer, the training program’s director, called Georgia’s mom. One of their service dogs, Courgette, was available sooner than expected. What Georgia’s family had thought would be a two year wait was cut down to 6 weeks.

Trained in retrieval and mobility work, Courgette will become Georgia’s fulltime service dog in December.

Georgia and Courgette the Alabama service dog

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