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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

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