May 7, 2011 6:58 PM by Matt Stafford

Local 12-year-old with spina bifida getting a service dog for free

A 12-year old girl, who's spent her young years struggling with spina bifida, is getting help from man's best friend -- a specially trained dog who will help her navigate the world. These dogs can cost more than $20,000, but thanks to generous donations, Cameron Biebuyck -- who likes to go by Cammie -- will get one for free.

"My very first surgery, I was eight-hours-old," Biebuyck tells News First 5, spina bifida is something she's just had to deal with.

"Wheelchairs, braces, walkers, surgeries, special accommodations at school -- it's just become part of our life," explains Lisa Biebuyck, Cameron's mother.

Spina Bifida is a developmental disorder, causing problems around the spinal cord. Children deal with it constantly from birth, but according to Biebuyck's mother sometimes the medical needs aren't as tough as the social needs.

"It's a little bit more difficult to make friends and be accepted. Just getting around school, sometimes, and getting on the playground is difficult for Cammie," says Lisa.

There's reason for excitement with the Biebuyck family right now, Cammie applied for and is now getting her own service dog.

"I was really excited. I actually screamed," says Cammie

At the Commissary on Peterson Air Force Base -- where her family is stationed -- they had a party for Cammie, and gave a tutorial on how her dog will help.

"If I drop something on the floor or I need to push a button and I can't reach it the dog will probably help me," says Biebuyck.

Biebuyck's dog wasn't at Saturday's celebration. Chaucer, a Golden Retriever, provided the demonstration from Canine Assistants -- the non-profit who trains the dogs. Biebuyck will have to go to Atlanta to pick out a puppy and have it trained.

Right now, she's thinking a lot about names.

"I have a lot, but I don't know if the dogs already have a name," says an excited Biebuyck, either way she's just happy to be getting a new dog.

"To have a companion there that will always be by her side, that is such a relief to me as a mother," says Lisa. It starts with seeing her daughter smile.

Milk-Bone and the Defense Commissary Agency are helping pay for Cammie's new dog. Canine Assistants hopes to have it trained and back home in about a year.

For more on Canine Assistants, click on this link.



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