While most of his fellow elementary school students are on summer vacation, Trace Coudon is in class this summer.
Coudon, 6, is currently with his family in Xenia, Ohio, learning to navigate life with his new service dog, Hulu, a female golden lab.
Joe and Heather Coudon of Rising Sun, have, with financial help from the community, worked tirelessly to get an assistance dog for Trace, who turns seven later this month.
The family was charged with the task of raising $15,000 to get the dog trained and certified. They've been working with the non-profit, 4 Paws for Ability for more than two years. That organization provides assistance dogs which are unique for each child. The Coudons have had to send items belonging to Trace to Ohio for several weeks to help Hulu learn his scent post-seizure. Hulu is also being training to assist Trace during times when his behavior is disruptive.
One of the goals of a seizure assistance dog is to provide safety, comfort, and a friend for Trace, while also providing reassurance of his safety to the family. The dog has been trained in seizure detection prior to it occurring. Having a companion is also expected to give Trace a sense of independence. "He's had an increase in meds because he's growing. He's still having seizures between five and seven per month. He's on his third medication since 2015," said Heather Coudon.
The entire family, including Trace's siblings, Joey and Harper, will be part of the training. Trace was scheduled to meet Hulu for the first time on Tuesday, August 1. Hulu has been training since she was 11 weeks old.
Last week, before leaving for Ohio and his dog training, Trace went shopping for his dog. He bought many items including a pink feeding bowl, toys, treats, dog identification tags, and more.
It is uncertain when and if the dog will accompany Trace to school at Calvert Elementary. Those involved with the dog will have to receive training before that can happen.