A young girl who needs an oxygen tank to survive met the service dog that will carry it from now on Friday.
Noelle Mikels, of Front Royal, Va., was born with a chronic lung disease. She was premature, arriving before her lungs could fully develop.
“She’s been on oxygen her entire life, and we’re thinking that she’ll be on it for quite some time if not forever,” said Stacie Mikels, Noelle’s mother.
Now the 4-year-old no longer has to lug the 10 pound tank around alone. That task goes to her new friend, Monty.
“Literally, today we are adding a new family member to our home,” said Stacie Mikels said. “That's what today is all about.”
Monty follows the paw prints of Mr. Gibbs. A Georgia girl with a similar lung condition and her service dog appeared on The Today Show, which inspired Stacie Mikels to find the same help for Noelle. The Mikels did some research, and with donations they collected $10,000 to get their own dog.
Monty came from North Star, a foundation that typically provides service dogs to autistic children. North Star took on the challenge and matched Noelle with Monty.
The golden retriever will carry the oxygen in a custom vest and go everywhere with Noelle.
“It'll be the line, the tanks and then they can even go down the slide together,” said Noelle’s father, Ross Mikels. “It'll be fun to see.”
But the Mikels hope the new dog won't be their daughter’s only new friend.
“A lot of time we find kids are apprehensive to come up to her because of the big tank and because she's always with an adult,” Stacie Mikels said, “and I really think that the dog will facilitate more kids coming over and talking to her and be a bridge between the two.”