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Lolo teenager gets long-awaited service dog

Posted: 1:05 PM, Jul 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-24 15:15:33-04

MISSOULA – Two years ago, MTN News brought you the story of one Lolo family’s fundraising efforts to get a service dog. This weekend, that dream finally came true.

On Saturday, 16-year-old Robbie Clawson and his mom flew to Ohio and returned with a service dog.

Robin MacMillan and her son Robbie Clawson applied to 4 Paws for Ability two years ago and were approved for a service dog.

“She has no idea that she could be saving his life someday. She just thinks its the funnest thing that she gets to do every day,” Robin said of Robbie’s new best friend.

Robbie has cerebral palsy, Gorlin Syndrome, epilepsy — and the second-ever recorded case of a deleted chromosome.

“When he was diagnosed with all of these things when he was a baby, I didn’t know what to expect for the future,” Robin said.

It only took three months for the community to raise $17,000 for Marnie, the service dog.

“One thing that I really want to stress is how incredibly grateful we are for the community to be behind Robbie, and support us in this need,” Robin told MTN News

That was only a portion of the associated costs. Marnie trained for 18 months in Ohio and on July 8, they met her for the first time.

They had three flights back to Montana over the weekend and Robin said the pair cuddled the entire time.

“This just opens up so much for him. Like I don’t have to be next to him in the bathroom when he’s taking a shower,” Robin said. “He can have his own freedom, he can begin to live his own life.”

Marnie is trained to alert someone when Robbie has a seizure, and check in on him when he gets nervous.

“Marnie will provide Robbie a sense of friendship and independence and security that I can’t always provide for him,” Robin said. “And as a parent with somebody with special needs, that is your main focus and all you ever think about, and are motivated, just to protect them and make sure that they live the best life that they can live.”

Robbie is into Toy Story and loves his school and classmates. He’s 16 now, and his mom said he’s grown a lot and done things he never would have used to — like Special Olympics.

“So he’s really overcome a ton of adversity. And it’s just part of his life, and part of his day and he just keeps moving on. He doesn’t know any different, which is amazing,” Robin said.

She added having Marnie opens up possibilities she never even dreamed of, “knowing that now I have something — someone to help me with that and relieve some of that. And let me just be his mom instead of his caretaker 24/7 — it’s emotional.”

Marnie is a golden retriever lab, and 16 of her training months were focused solely on Robbie’s symptoms. You can follow more of their journey on Facebook at 4 Paws for Robbie .

-Reported by Katie Miller/MTN News