Child with fetal alcohol syndrome hopes for life-altering furry friend

Local News

A Bettendorf couple adopted a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. Now the family seeks a potentially life-changing companion for the little girl.

Meet Willow Fuglseth.

Willow, 7, was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and later developed an intellectual disability and ADHD.

“When she came to us she had a number of different challenges. She had unexplained jitters and some mal-nutrition’s and a lot of different things,” explained parents David and Melissa Fuglseth.

School also has been difficult for Willow, especially with the transition to e-learning amid the pandemic. Willow has learning delays, cognitive delays, and developmental delays. She is 7 years old but she’s about a 4 cognitively, her parents said.

It was during Zoom learning that her parents noticed Willow’s relationship with their family dog, Bentley.

“Our family dog, Bentley, would sit with her and she would just have a calming presence,” said David.

Willow’s parents believe a service dog would protect Willow from all the things associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, basically serving as a calming and trusted part of Willow’s life. The family is now working with ‘4 Paws 4 Ability’ to raise money for her service dog.

“4 Paws 4 Ability not only does service animals for all sorts of disabilities; autism, seizures related disorders and epilepsy but also fetal alcohol syndrome specifically,” said David.

“She will have that companion of safety so when she goes to school it will be great that the dog will be able to go with her and help comfort her to feel safe,” said Melissa.

The Fuglseths already have $11,000 of the $17,000 they need for the therapy dog. If you are interested in learning more about Willow’s story or to donate, click here.

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