A Service Dog Provides Comfort To A 7-Year-Old Who Endured A Terrible Accident

Gavin Swearingen's entire life changed when he sustained a brain injury after falling from a swing at the age of 2.

A dog runs towards the camera.
Deedee86 / Pixabay

Gavin Swearingen's entire life changed when he sustained a brain injury after falling from a swing at the age of 2.

Life can change completely in no more than an instant. That’s a fact that 7-year-old Gavin Swearingen from Carmel, Indiana, and his parents know well. Gavin was just 2-years-old when he fell off a swing and sustained a brain injury that would completely change his life. The fall led him to lose 75 percent of the left side of his brain. As a result, he has developed epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

At his very young age, he’s already endured several strokes and is currently preparing to undergo his 10th surgery. Throughout it all, he has remained strong and brave, assisted by the loving care that his service dog offers him, according to Today.

Gavin has his own service dog named Elmer, who has been there for him throughout many of the struggles he’s experienced. Elmer is a Labrador-golden retriever mixed breed who was trained to specifically assist him. Not only does Elmer help him with physical obstacles, but he offers him emotional support and comfort as well. Most of all, he helps him have a lot of fun.

The boy’s mother, 36-year-old Amanda Swearingen, is immensely grateful for the positive difference the pup has made in her son’s life.

“It’s magic. I jokingly say they’re both puppies — they love to play. Gavin is 7 and Elmer is 2. They run and chase each other and they’re silly. Throwing the ball to me 10 times is therapy. Throwing the ball for Elmer 20 times is fun.”

Gavin’s parents were honest in saying that life looks a lot different now than they expected it to look when Gavin was first born. Prior to his accident, they pictured their son growing up living a healthy, normal life. While the child isn’t without his physical challenges, he’s certainly not without happiness. He’s also been making vast mental and physical improvements since this special pup came into his life.

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While Gavin didn’t particularly enjoy reading previously, he has begun reading at a level close to what is expected for those of his age group since Elmer came into his life.

Gavin’s life is not without difficulty and his mother knows that she will have to watch her son endure many more hardships along the way. Nevertheless, she is choosing gratitude anyway.

“I can’t say this is a path that I ever expected to be on, but we are definitely going to make the most of it and try and remain grateful for it because gratitude is the opposite of sadness,” Amanda Swearingen said. “We choose gratitude.”