Community efforts raise money for service dog to help Agassiz boy stay calm, happy

Riley, a two-year-old Lhasa Apso-Chihuahua cross has made a huge difference in Chase Frayn’s life

Getting a canine companion is exciting for most kids, but one Agassiz boy has waited patiently for years to find his perfect match.

Jason Frayn knew his son Chase, 10, would benefit from a service dog when he heard of the calming effect a class rabbit had on the then eight-year-old .

Chase, diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and anxiety – often has difficulties with every day activities like riding in a car, falling asleep or going to school.

But Chase’s connection with George, the classroom rabbit, was apparent to teachers who noticed how calm and focused he was when he could hold George or have him nearby. Based on his attachment to animals, Chase’s pediatrician recommended he get a service dog.

Riley the dog may be small, but he has a big impact in the life 10-year-old Chase Frayn. (Submitted)

But the Frayns faced a difficult barrier: Acquiring and training a service dog, plus the ongoing support needed over the dog’s lifetime would be costly – about $25,000.

The family started raising money in 2016, and at the time, Chase hadn’t yet been diagnosed with ASD, making it harder for him to get the dog through many organizations. After Chase’s diagnosis, funding came easier, but by no means covered the entire expense.

Related: Agassiz family raising funds for son’s service dog

So the Frayns turned to the community for help.

“The classroom rabbit and even his Papa and Grams dog has helped him cope with his anxiety and calmed him down when he senses he is going into his red zone,” reads the family’s fundraising page on Assistance Service Dogs BC. “This service dog will help him prosper, grow and develop into a wonderful person. His smile says it all.”

When the Agassiz Harrison Lions Club got involved, it was one of the largest fundraising projects the group had ever taken on. But member Jean Robson said the local club knew it would find a way to help.

“We are definitely geared towards children. It just seemed to resonate with all of us,” she said. “But the money figure was way up there for what we, as a smaller club, could handle.”

With help from the Hope Lions and an anonymous donor, the club was able to raise a huge portion of the money the Frayns needed.

“It was definitely a worthwhile cause,” Robson said.

A successful Paint Night fundraiser in Agassiz made a huge difference, said Frayn, who thanks friends, family and the community at large for their contributions.

It took a few years to fundraise and a lot of work to find the right fit, but eventually Chase was matched with Riley, a two-year-old Lhasa Apso – Chihuahua cross.

Frayn laughs, saying the family expected a lab or bigger dog. But Chase, himself still quite small, found a perfect match in the little pooch and his family has already noticed a difference in his behaviour.

“Chase’s anxiety has really dropped, especially when we’re going out of the house and going on car rides,” Frayn said. “Chase absolutely loves the dog.”

During a recent stay at the Children’s Hospital, Frayn said Riley helped Chase relax after an episode.

“Once Chase had calmed down a little bit, the dog was there and he would lie on Chase and help him calm down and comfort him,” Frayn said. “Riley sleeps with Chase in his room, and it helps him sleep through the night as well.”

The family goes to Mission for continued training – both for the Frayns and for Riley – so that eventually the pup can go everywhere with his new companion, even school.

That might take more time, but Frayn says so far, the fundraising and training has been worth it to see his son’s life improve.

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