It’s easy to find the ugly in this world, but here is a story of kindness and karma to remind you of all the beauty and goodness in the world.
Brandi Guillet is a mom through adoption, like me. She and her husband were ready to start a family, but several failed attempts at IVF brought them to adoption. They were set to adopt a baby girl, but the adoption fell through late in the process.
The baby girl’s name was Ellie. (Remember that name.) To say that it’s disappointing when an adoption falls through is a huge understatement, but Brandi believed fate had something and someone else in mind.
Enter Connor. Born addicted to opioid painkillers and abandoned by his birth mother, Connor spent a month in the NICU awaiting adoption. “I didn’t care that he was born addicted,” said Brandi. “We wanted a family. He needed a family.” And a family they became.
Today, Connor’s life is much the same as any other soon-to-be 7-year-old boy. He likes to run through the sprinklers and play on the swings at the playground, however, Connor doesn’t speak and understanding his wants and needs can be challenging.
In addition to opioid exposure in utero, Connor has 22q Deletion syndrome, sometimes referred to as DiGeorge syndrome. Connor also has polymicrogyria, a condition distinguished by abnormal brain development before birth. He is a smart and loving little boy, but his verbal skills are very limited, so he uses a combination of American Sign Language (ASL) and “Connor Sign Language to communicate.
Brandi decided Connor needed a friend. The Guillet family already had a dog named Chowda, but at 8+ years old (56 in dog years), the family pet was showing signs of slowing down. Brandi started to explore the idea of getting a more active dog, better suited as companion of a lively young boy.
The family checked out a local boxer rescue and learned there were several deaf dogs that needed homes. Initially, Brandi wasn’t sold on the idea of a deaf dog, until she heard the words that would change Connor’s life: “Some deaf dogs respond to American Sign Language.”
Wait a second. Connor uses simple signs.
Brandi explained Connor’s condition to the representative at the boxer rescue center, and together, they decided a particular female dog would be the perfect canine friend for this special little boy. And wait for it … the dog’s name is Ellie.
Connor and Ellie took an instant liking to each other. When he shakes his finger at Ellie, she stops whatever she’s doing. When he motions “come here,” she goes to him. Connor and Ellie quickly became inseparable.
“They seem to understand each other’s boundaries,” says Brandi. “If she’s sleeping, he taps her lightly at first so she doesn’t freak out. He knows how to make certain accommodations for her and that’s intuitive.”
Brandi shared a picture online of Connor and Ellie snuggled up together. The photo was picked up by the popular Facebook page, Love What Matters, and quickly went viral. This happy and hopeful story of a sweet boy and his beloved dog is touching hearts all over the world.
But peel back another layer and this story becomes even more amazing.
Ellie was a foster dog, which means her stay in the Guillet household would only be temporary. Although Brandi knew that Ellie was “home,” there was still the issue of how the family would afford the pet adoption fees.
The dreaded call came from the boxer rescue center; Ellie had been chosen for adoption. Brandi’s heart sank at the thought of telling Connor he would have to say goodbye to his beloved dog. But then the magic words came: “You have a guardian angel in New Jersey.”
That’s right! A random person who had heard about Connor and Ellie on a morning radio show took care of the adoption fees. This guardian angel’s random act of kindness made it possible for Ellie to be Connor’s forever companion! No, you’re crying.
The guardian angel turned out to be a woman named Tina, whose own dog, Petey, was suffering from congestive heart failure. She was moved by the Guillet’s story and expressed admiration for Brandi.
“Brandi is MY hero,” explained Tina. “It takes a strong person to handle the accommodations Connor and Ellie both need every day … a child or pet with special needs is expensive … it was clear that dog was right where it needed to be.” Okay, maybe I’m crying, too.
And it gets better.
Brandi learned Tina lives 15 minutes from her own home in Roseland, New Jersey. Through the miracle of Facebook, they connected.
There were tears and thank yous. Brandi told Tina, “Something good is going to happen to you.” And she was right. The next week, Petey’s health took a turn for the better. We love it when good things happen to good people!
“My nonverbal son has a best friend he can talk to and who understands him,” says Brandi. She also goes on to say “I wish more families would open their hearts to deaf animals. Communication with them is a little different, but they are amazing companions. I also feel like deaf dogs would be good sidekicks for adults or kids who sign.”
You can point to karma, kismet, fate, destiny, and maybe how the stars lined up for Connor and Ellie to be together. Some souls are just meant to meet and touch each other’s life.
There are good people in the world who are motivated, called, and inspired to touch the lives of others in a positive way to make things happen. To make things better. And for the Guillet family, this case of puppy love is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.