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Largo family becomes surprise TV stars in PBS documentary on service dogs



Servicedogs-family  Here’s the thing: Lisa Panish never expected her family to land on TV.

Even now, after the newspaper interviews, the PBS documentary and all the attention which has come from seeing her 7-year-old twins get the assistance dogs they need to lead fuller lives, she’s not sure how to feel about one part of it.

The media stuff.

“This whole thing has been quite surreal,” Panish, 36, told me when I visited the family on Thursday to talk about their appearance in Through a Dog's Eyes, a PBS documentary about a Georgia charity which trains and gives away service dogs to people with disabilities. Panish's sons Chase and Connor, two precocious kids with cerebral palsy, were given dogs in November.

When the call came from Canine Assistants after more than a two-year wait, they had another request. Seemed PBS was making a documentary about the agency and its passionate founder, Jennifer Arnold.

Servicedogs-chase-wilson Would she be willing to let the children participate?

Panish's yes came pretty quickly. ““Cerebral palsy has a label sometimes…people see the glasses, the (leg) braces, the walker, and they assume my children are delayed; they talk down to them,” Panish said, her eyes welling with water again. “For me, it was about exposing them to something new (while letting) people learn about my kids and their potential.”

I wrote about the family in today's newspaper, you can see that story here. And the documentary featuring the family debuts at 8 tonight on WEDU-Ch. 3.

Click here to see PBS' website on the children and their journey.

Check out a preview below, or click here to see a website about the show; Canine Assistants' website can be found here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:07pm]


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