4 Paws for Giovanni

4 Paws for Ability Inc

4 Paws for Giovanni

4 Paws for Giovanni

Thank you for visiting our fundraising page! 

Giovanni's Story

I would like to introduce you to Giovanni. He is a very bright, happy, and energetic 2 year old boy. He has a smile and a laugh that will make your heart melt. Giovanni loves looking at his books, playing with his tractors, and helping mommy and daddy around the house. He is truly full of love as he will go up to anyone and give them a hug!

Giovanni was diagnosed with two rare neurological conditions, periventricular heterotopia and porencephaly. Periventricular heterotopia is a condition in which the grey matter in the brain does not migrate properly during early fetal development, forming clumps around the ventricles. Most children diagnosed with this condition develop epilepsy, where in some cases the seizures stop responding to medication and only drastic surgical intervention can help control the seizures. While we were hoping that he would be in the minority and not develop epilepsy, Giovanni started having seizures shortly after his first birthday. We are fearful as they are unpredictable and come without warning. Just to give us peace of mind at night, Giovanni sleeps with a sensor that monitors his breathing.

Shortly before birth, as a result of the periventricular heterotopia, Giovanni suffered a stroke which caused a permanent cerebral spinal fluid-filled cyst to form in his brain called a porencephalic cyst. The stroke itself caused left sided hemiplegia resulting in diminished use of his left arm and leg. Although physical and occupational therapies have helped immensely, Giovanni still continues to struggle with balance, strength, and coordination. His brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to execute skilled motor tasks, such as coordinated movements as well as speech.

One of the biggest challenges Giovanni faces is his inability to cope with his environment. Due to the abnormalities within his brain, he over-responds to sensation and finds certain sensory input to be unbearable which can make it challenging to participate in activities outside of the home. His diminished ability to communicate only makes it more difficult and leads to high levels of frustration and anxiety. There are times when Giovanni becomes so distraught that he avoids all sensory input. He frequently stops eating for days at a time because of this, which has made weight gain a challenge. Although we continue to do everything possible to protect him, it has become difficult for Giovanni to build self-confidence, as his independence is quite limited. This is why we have chosen to pursue a multipurpose service dog for him.


Why A Service Dog?

We want to do everything we can to help Giovanni reach his full potential. We want to keep him safe while allowing him the independence he needs to develop self-confidence.  

A Multipurpose Service Dog will help Giovanni in the following ways:

Mobility – the dog will have a harness to assist Giovanni on uneven ground and will provide support for balance

Behavior Disruption – the dog will be trained to do behavior disruption (touch, nudge, kisses, snuggle, deep pressure) to stop unwanted behaviors or meltdowns simply by us giving the dog a command

Seizure Alert - the dog will be trained to sense and respond to seizures

Security – Giovanni can be tethered to the dog to prevent dangerous wandering when he gets overstimulated by his environment

Tracking – the dog will be trained to track his scent and quickly find him if he was ever to wander off

Socialization – being a child with special needs can be difficult, especially as he gets older. This dog will help Giovanni to feel comfortable in his environment, hopefully giving him the self-confidence and self-esteem he needs to form new relationships


Why 4 Paws?

4 Paws for Ability is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), organization whose mission is to place quality service dogs with children with disabilities. 

At 4 Paws it costs $22,000 to train and place a service dog with a disabled child. However, the families engage in fundraising activities as volunteers for 4 Paws to qualify for a free service dog. Each family is asked to help raise at least $14,000. By doing this, the waiting list is only as long as it takes the person to complete their fundraising requirement. Once we have met our fundraising goal, Giovanni's dog will start the training process.

Every dollar helps and moves us one day closer to uniting Giovanni with his service dog!


Donations can also be mailed to:

4 Paws for Ability, Inc.
253 Dayton Ave
Xenia, OH 45385
(Please include ”Giovanni LaBate” on the memo line)

For more information about Giovanni's journey, you can visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/giovannisjourney Email any questions to klabate@verizon.net

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