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Home » News » A Girl's Best Friend

A Girl's Best Friend

A Girl's Best Friend

June 14, 2014

By Carlee Edwards

The bond between a girl and her dog can be something stronger than friendship. For Lauren Gilley an 8 year old with 1p36 deletion syndrome, her new friend Columbus has become a member of the family.

Lauren was diagnosed with 1p36 deletion syndrome, a genetic anomaly that affects 1 in 5,000 children, when she was 3 months old. She is developmentally delayed, non verbal, and needs help with basic daily tasks.

At the age of 3, Lauren, while in the care of a babysitter who watched her as her mother recovered from a broken back, had a negative experience with two fluffy, white dogs that lived next door. No one was hurt in the encounter, the dogs only jumped at the fence and barked at the girl, but for Lauren that was enough to evoke a deep fear of all dogs that couldn’t seem to be undone.

“We spent a long time trying to work with Lauren on that fear,” Lauren’s step-dad Dominic Casperson said.

Lauren’s mother Kristen Casperson and her step-dad have worked for four years trying to get young Lauren over her fear of dogs. They took her to adoption events, pet stores, anywhere there might be dogs or other animals to get her comfortable being around them. Then one day, at a parade, Lauren showed a curious interest in a dog nearby, a pitbull to be exact.

“Of all the dogs to want to pet, she wanted to pet the pitbull,” Mr. Casperson explained.
Lauren approached the dog cautiously of course.

“She inched her way carefully over to pet him. Then she would get startled and back off,” said Mrs. Casperson. “Then she would start inching her way over again.”

It didn’t take long before Lauren summed up the courage to pet the dog on her own and soon her parents couldn’t get her to stop. In fact, after that parade, anytime Lauren would see a pitbull she would go up and try to pet it.

This led the family to look into Missouri Pitbull Rescue, and take Lauren to a few of their events. Team members of Missouri Pitbull Rescue met with Kristen and Dominic and Lauren. They discussed the family’s needs, Lauren’s needs, and ended up filling out an adoption application that started on them on the journey to meeting their newest family member Columbus.

Five dogs were handpicked by the Missouri Pitbull Rescue team members who knew the family would need a mild mannered, obedient, well behaved dog. Columbus, a young pitbull mix named for the park in Kansas City where he was found, was among the ones chosen.

“We do know he is under 2 years old,” Mrs. Casperson explained. “He is sweet, great with Lauren and we absolutely adore him.”

Lauren began to warm up to him the day they brought him home. She was standoffish at first of course, but the two quickly became friends. Not only does he act as a companion to the young girl, but he’s helped to bring her out of her shell as well.

Many sources say that dogs can be very therapeutic for children, especially children with disabilities and Columbus has been just that for Lauren. He watches out for her and even lays in her bedroom doorway when she’s upset, while Lauren feeds him treats, loves on him and kisses him goodnight.

“I know having a dog was the right choice for our family and for her,” Mrs. Casperson said. “Now [Lauren] has a sweet companion to grow up with.”

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  1. Cindy says:
    June 19th, 2014 at 22:19
    Sounds to me like Columbus is the epitome of what the historic "Nanny dog" pit bull used to be. Congratulations to Lauren who has the best friend she'll ever have in her pit bull Columbus.
  2. Lisbeth says:
    July 9th, 2014 at 03:21
    This is a tragic choice. This mother and step-father are risking this child's life in a scandalous way. Pit bull type dogs -- most of them beloved family dogs -- have killed 20 children this year so far. It's a form of criminal negligence to expose any child to a pit bull type dog. I hope the girl's biological father takes action to protect her by suing for sole custody and removing her from her mother's home asap.
    24 dead by dog attack so far in 2014. 20 killed by pit bull type dogs / pit bull mixes. Stars indicate that the killer was a beloved family pit bull that was never abused or neglected.
    Child fatalities by pit bull type dogs (12):
    Kara Hartrich – 4 y.o. – Bloomington IL **  [Jan 17]
    Je’vaeh Mayes – 2 y.o. – Temple TX ** [Feb 17]
    Braelynn Rayne Coulter – High Point NC ** [Feb 24]
    Kenneth Santillan – 13 y.o. boy – Patterson NJ [28 Feb – bullmastiff, ie pit bull - mastiff mix]
    Raymane Camari Robinson – 2 y.o. boy – Killeen TX ** [March 1 – bullmastiff]
    Mia Derouen – 4 y.o. – Houme, LA** [March 25]
    Christopher Malone – 3 y.o. – Holmes County, MS** [March 31]
    John Harvard – 5 y.o. – Riverside, St. Clair County, AL** [April 6]
    Demonta Collins – 13 y.o. – Augusta, GA –  [April 10] -- chased into traffic by an attacking pit bull, killed by an oncoming car
    Davon Jigget – 17 – Fulton County, GA ** [April 11] – Chased into traffic by an attacking pit bull, killed by an oncoming car
    Kasil Haith  – 4 y.o. – Camden, DE  [May 7]
    Holden William Garrison – 10 weeks old – Springfield Township, MI ** [June 8 – friends of the family confirm that the 'Cathoula' was a pit bull mix]
    Adult fatalities by pit bull type dogs (8):
    Christina Bell-Burleson – 43 – Houston TX **  [Jan 5]
    Betty Clark –75 y.o. – Canyon Lake, TX ** -- [attacked December 21, 2013, died January 6, 2014]
    Klonda Richey – 57 – Dayton OH ** [Feb 7 – two pit bull / mastiff mixes]
    Nancy Newbury – 77 – Phoenix AZ** [March 13]
    Dorothy Hamilton – 85 y.o. – Kaufman, TC** [March 31]
    Petra Yanez Aguirra – 83 y.o. – San Antonio, TX ** [attacked March 31, died April 11]
    Kate Morrison – 20 y.o. – Smiths Station, AL** [attacked April 28, died May 3]
    Rita Pepe – 93 y.o. – Branford, CT** [attacked April 13, died May 25]
    Rottweiler killings (2):
    Annabel Martin – 89 y.o. – Corona CA  [Jan 26]
    Nyhiem Wilfong – 1 y.o. – Caldwell County, NC [May 5]
    One killing by supposed ‘shepherd mixes’ (suspected of being pit bull mixes): Summer Sears – 4 y.o. – Tallassee GA  [Feb 26]
    One killing by Alaska malamute: Gracie Hernetier-Clark – 7 y.o. – Springfield, Manatoba, Canada [March 16]
    Non-bite fatalities:
    Carlos Eligio Trevina – 54 y.o. – Idaho Falls ID ** – [Jan 9] – Died of a heart attack immediately after breaking up a fight between his seven pit bulls / pit mixes
  3. Lori says:
    November 7th, 2014 at 12:28
    Having just read this artical and the comments which followed I say this: It is not the breed which is to be blamed, it is the training which is most important and which is the adult/owners responsibility. I work in a job which has me go to many homes for different reasons. I have the least issues with the pits than I do with smaller dogs. People let them do what they want with little training thinking they a cute and funny. When they bite "oh it's nothing" is often said because they are so small and the damage they do is the same. Research the breed of any dog you want to bring into your home and then make sure the individual dogs temperament is what you are looking for and need. It looks like this family did just that and found the right ft for their family.
  4. Julie Wall says:
    November 7th, 2014 at 13:05
    Pit-bull Rescue Central, the leading authority of pit bull types admits MOST pit-bull types are not safe around other dogs. For that reason alone is why I do not consider them safe family pets for our neighborhoods. These are powerful animals that break away from their guardians all the time and maul & kill another beloved pet or person in front of a child or person. This is a typical pit attack on another beloved pet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZTiGWgQubA Too many children & adults have watched their beloved pets be mauled to death by pit bulls. Many develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after watching a horrific pit attack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBFb-hGWZqg Breaking-up pit attacks is dangerous 1/3 end up attacking the person that's breaking up the fight.http://dogbitelaw.com/d...angerous-to-people.html
    According to Pit Bull Rescue Central, "It is a FACT that our pit bulls, AmStaffs and pit mixes come with a built-in fighting heritage.It doesn’t matter where we get them from, whether it be the pound, a stray we pick up, or a puppy we buy from a breeder. The majority of pit bulls will, at some point in their lives, exhibit some degree of dog-on-dog aggression. This type of animal aggression is completely separate from human-aggression; a well-socialized pit bull is very good-natured with people.Yet, chances are that a "normal" pit bull will not share his affection with other animals.We cannot predict when or where it will happen and we can’t love, train or socialize it out ofthe dog. Pit bulls may not start fights, but they will finish them." http://www.pbrc.net/misc/PBRC_dogpark.pdf";
    The Pit Bull Rescue Central recommends ALL pit guardians to have a break stick. FOR ME THIS IS ANOTHER RED FLAG! Does not sound like a safe family pet if you need a breakstick on hand. "Since pit bulls have a strong fighting background, we recommend that pet owners also have a breaking stick as a precaution, even if they don't plan to use it in an illegal context. However, please be discreet. Breaking sticks are not something to brag about and the general pubic might have the wrong impression if you walk around with a stick in your hand. Breaking sticks are not illegal, but they are considered dog fighting paraphernalia in certain states and/or with certain law enforcement agents." http://www.pbrc.net/breaksticks.html This person demonstrates how to use a break stick on a pit-bulls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfMVH4wY5Pg
    I appreciate that Pit bull Rescue Central, is telling pit-bull guardians not to take their dog to off-leash parks but many pit guardians are still very ignorant to this recommendation. What is bewildering to me is that Pit Bull Rescue Central admits that other beloved dogs in the community are not safe around pit-bulls because of their genetic makeup but promotes them as a great family pet. For me this is a red flag that you are compromising public safety and the safety of our beloved pets in our communities. Of all the dog breeds, they are the all time number one killer of humans and other people’s beloved pets. If all these guardians would have picked a safer pet like a beagle instead of a pit, we would not even be having this conversation. What other type of dog has the ability to kill humans that would be mistaken for a pit bull type? These families know exactly what breed killed their loved one: http://www.dogsbite.org...ics-fatalities-2014.php Then these pit-bull advocates are oblivious and offended why people do not want these dogs in the neighborhood. REALLY? Are you really that blind? Do I really have to spell it out for you? Many people in the neighborhood have beloved pets that they consider family members. They are concerned for their pet's safety and they do not want their dog to get mauled to death. Now people in the neighborhood who have pets have to live in fear if this powerful pitbull will get away from the guardian and hurt or kill their beloved pet. Almost all dog guardians have experienced a mishap where their dog gets away from them by mistake.
    Many pit-bull breeders who are breeding for human aggression to create guard dogs. Most pit-bulls types come primarily from unethical backyard breeders who are trying to breed aggression, not good temperaments. Often, their dogs are the product of reject pits purchased from dog fighters as cheap stock. So with the pool of pit bulls we have, you cannot tell the difference between a cold one and one that might snap. (unprovoked aggression). So basically people who have pits are playing Russian Roulette against our communities. Here is a clip of unethical pit-bull breeders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiZOj9o6jpE
    Not all cigarettes killed people, but they're ban in almost all public places now. Not all sliding railing baby cribs killed babies, govt ban them anyway. Not all ford pintos exploded, govt ban them. Not all lawn darts hit people in the head but govt ban them. Just because not every pit bull kills someone does not mean pit bulls are safe. Dozens of people have been killed by pit bulls in the US already in 2014. I know many people love pit bulls, but that's too many deaths, and sometimes bans save us from ourselves. But don't worry, there are hundreds of other dog breeds to chose from that do not kill dozens of people a year, so everyone will still be able to have a dog to love.
  5. Amy says:
    November 7th, 2014 at 16:58
    At Lisbeth: why don't you post all attacks by non pit bull breeds? Oh, I know why....not enough space on here to accommodate all or even half of non-pitbull related dog attacks! Ignorance has mislabeled this breed and you unfortunately are one of the ignorant. EVERY DOG CAN BITE! That is a fact that you should have researched!!
    Happy for Lauren and Columbus!!! Sweet and heartwarming story ! <3
  6. AJ says:
    November 7th, 2014 at 22:16
    O look HERE COMES ALL THE PITBULL HATERS. GEESH take a chill pill. IT NOT THE BREED IT THE DEED. I have own many many pitbulls around small kids no issues. I watch my friend kid get attack by an small dog that dog did serious damage. For the person who saying dad should get soul custody really did you ever think you are ripping a special needs child away from her companion who has help this little girl in so many ways. I have a special needs kid I help take care of. He around pitbulls no issues. IT HOW YOU RAISE THE BREED. IF YOU RAISE A PITTBULL TO BE MEAN IT WILL BE MEAN. RAISE IT WITH LOVE IT WILL SHOW LOVE & COMPANIONSHIP. HOW ABOUT POST ALL THE ATTACKS FROM OTHER DOG BREEDS O WAIT YOU JUST WANT TO HATE ON THIS BREED. IT PEOPLE OR HATERS THAT ARE GIVING THESE DOGS BAD RAPS & NAMES. OK END RANT. Great article.
  7. Lisa says:
    March 1st, 2015 at 17:48
    Glad to hear she lost the court battles and lost the dog. The mother should lose custody of the child for exposing her to a pit bull like so many other parents have had CPS take away children after adopting pit bulls. Countless studies have proven pit bulls kill more and attack more and do more damage than all other breeds of dog. Anyone can search most dangerous dog and the evidences if everywhere. They claim it's not the breed it's the owner but who can look at a owner and tell if they're a good owner or not? But we already know no matter how bad a beagle's owner is that beagle is not going to kill someone. I'm very glad these pit bulls are ban where I live.

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