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Article updated: 11/25/2012 10:39 AM

Arlington Heights woman, students help train therapy dog

By Melissa Silverberg

Thanks to the help of an Arlington Heights woman and the students at South Middle School, a sick little boy in Ohio will soon be getting a very special dog.

Debbie Kubitz, who works with Dog Builders, spent much of October training Puzzle, a 10-month-old Goldendoodle puppy who will start work as a service dog this winter.

Puzzle's future owner, Jaivon Chear, is an 8-year-old boy who suffers from tuberous sclerosis, a tumor on his brain stem, epilepsy, autism and a variety of other health problems, Kubitz said. Jaivon's mother, Julie, wrote in an email that hopefully Puzzle will be able to go to school with her son where they live in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, and calm him when he is upset.

While Puzzle was in the Northwest suburbs, Kubitz -- who takes her own therapy dog to Northwest Community Hospital to work with patients -- worked on socializing him.

She let him spend time with her kids, at sporting events and even took a trip to South Middle School in Arlington Heights so he could see the chaos of a busy school day, she said. That experience, with hundreds of kids around, was crucial to Puzzle's training.

This is the third therapy dog Kubitz has helped train, but she said Puzzle has been so meaningful because of who he will be going to help.

"I enjoy trying to make a difference because I know what dogs can do for people," she said. "I see firsthand the happiness a dog can bring to somebody and this boy has an extremely difficult road ahead of him, so hopefully Puzzle can help."

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