LOWELL, Mass. — Simply put, service dogs are pretty amazing in helping people with disabilities manage many aspects of daily living.
Destiny Lomonte says her life changed when Salem came into the picture. He’s actually saved her life a couple of times.
“Salem’s main job is actually for my epilepsy,” explained Lomonte who is in a wheelchair. “What he actually does is he alerts me seven minutes before the seizure is coming so that I’m able to get in a safe position. He’ll alert me by double-tapping my left leg.”
Now, Salem is sick and Lomonte’s looking at some big vet bills on the horizon.
“I was like, what’s the price point? I’m a disabled individual. I’m not full of cash,” said Lomonte.
The three-and-a-half-year-old chocolate lab has been diagnosed with diabetic insipidus which causes him to drink way too much water and is putting a strain on his kidneys.
“They actually found a lesion on his left kidney and they’re very concerned about that and they told me he is going to need a CT scan,” added Lomonte.
That’s just the start of a costly medical odyssey for Lomonte. The bills could total $5,000 to get Salem the treatment he needs.
Then, a moment of inspiration came from TikTok.
Lomonte saw a challenge regarding dogs. A canvas is covered with different colors of paint and put in a Ziploc bag which has been covered with peanut butter or another food that a dog likes.
The bag is then taped to the floor and the dog is allowed to lick off all of the peanut butter, creating a unique design on the canvas inside the bag.
“I was psyched how good it actually came out,” said Lomonte. “I think we may have something going here.”
Lomonte decided to sell the paintings on a Facebook page for $35 apiece, even customizing them to match a person’s décor.
All the profits the art generates will get Salem the treatment he needs. Most importantly, it seems to be work he enjoys.
“He absolutely loves it. It’s hysterical for him. I say ‘Salem, do you want to make a painting?’ And he gets up and does a big stretch ahead of time,” said Lomonte.
Salem usually does three paintings a day but he only gets peanut butter for one of them.
The others are done with pumpkin and yogurt, a diet his vet approved.
Lomonte said she’s raised about a quarter of what she needs for the procedures which she’d like to get done in July.
There is also a GoFundMe page to help raise money to cover Salem’s medical expenses.
Lomonte is happy she has found a way to help a dog that helps her so much every day. “He’s been a life-changer for me.”
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