Service Dog Mr. Gibbs and His Young Ward, Alida, Garner International Attention
A Japanese television crew spent the weekend in Loganville, Ga. filming service dog Mr. Gibbs and his young ward, 3-year-old Alida Knobloch. The family was at the WAG Pet Festival where Mr. Gibbs was guest of honor.
The story of now 3-year-old Alida Knobloch and her trusty canine companion, Mr. Gibbs, has touched hearts across the world. That was evident again this weekend when a Japanese television crew traveled to Loganville, Ga. to film the story.
Little Alida has a rare disease, neuroendocrine hyperplasia of infancy, a lung disorder occuring in some children that makes breathing very difficult. As a result, Alida has to remain attached to an oxygen tank most of the time. Mr. Gibbs is a trained goldendoodle service dog that trotts alongside the little girl wherever she goes, carrying her lifesaving oxygen. It was for this service that Mr. Gibbs was guest of honor and the recipient of a medal at Saturday's WAG and Walk Pet Festival at Meridian Park in Loganville. The whole award ceremony and pet parade led by Alida and Mr. Gibbs was filmed by the visting Japanese television crew.
For the family, events like the pet festival and the global attention help raise funds for research of the disease as well as awareness.
"It's mainly about the awareness," said Alida's mother, Debbie Knobloch.
Alida has a baby sister and there is always a possibility that she too could develop the same disease.
"She's 6 months old now and symptoms usually begin to show between 6 months and a year," Knobloch said. "But she's healthy right now."
With the television crew in tow, Mr. Gibbs and Alida led off a walk around the lake at Meridian Park. Neither the little girl nor her trusty companion seemed in the least bit bothered by the attention, but they've had plenty opportunities to get used to it. After the story first surfaced, it quickly went viral and the family was interviewed by media outlets across the country. All the attention, however, is helping raise awareness about this extremely rare condition. The family also is raising funds for research into NEHI.