Teen with autism loses service dog to cancer

13News Now Philip Townsend has the story

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) -- Pencil and paper help fill a void in Gabe Nieves' life.

"I miss her," said Gabe.

Drawing is a needed distraction for Gabe after losing his best friend and companion.

For the last seven years, his Golden Retriever named Blush has been the 13-year-old's service dog.

"She helped me be happy," said Gabe.

On September 10th, Blush lost a battle with cancer.

"I don't think he stopped crying for three or four days," said Gabe's mother Briana Nieve.

Gabe has autism, and Blush was trained specifically to help him relax and control his energy.

Briana and her husband Raan say Gabe has had trouble sleeping, his meltdowns have increased, and all the behaviors they thought he outgrew have returned now that Blush isn't around.

"When he gets really overwhelmed he hurts himself," said Briana. "It's one of the things Blush helped stop."

It's a helpless feeling for Gabe's parents, but trainers can pair the boy with another dog like Blush.

The problem is, even with a significant discount, the family has to raise close to $10,000 to afford a new service dog.

"We'll do what we need to do," said Raan. "We're his parents and we owe that to him."

If you would like to help Gabe and the Naive family, a fundraiser has been setup to raise money for a new dog.


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