Volunteer Spirit: Two national companies provide canine companion for Knoxville boy

KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- A quick and simple trip to the store, is never quick nor simple for the Murphy's.

Lise Murpy or someone has to stay closeby to her 12 year old son, Connor.

"Sometimes our fear is we cannot find Connor and his head goes back he cannot yell for me. If we get seperated he cannot tell me where he is," says Lise.

Connor has SMA. He uses an electric wheelchair to get around, hauling extra equipment that keeps him alive, like this suctioning machine.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy affects all the muscles, the ability to walk, talk, even swallow.

"So since he doesn't swallow, the spit builds up and he can choke and its very scary. So if a dog was there and pushed it forward, it would be big."

Lise is referring to a service dog.

Dudley Arnold with Canine Assistants out of Alferetta Georgia says, "They learn about 90-95 differnt tasks. Retrieving, tugging doors open, elevator door buttons."

And that's what Connor is getting, a canine companion thanks to a partnership from Sam's clubs and Milk-Bone Brand.

They held a presentation at the Sam's Club in West Knoxville to make th eannouncement.

Ken Iuso of Milk-Bone says, "It's about understanding community importance and Sam's has a big priorty to give back to the community, Milk-Bone is a treat, but also benefits a great way to bring awareness to this program."

Connor won't get his service dog for several more months, because he is in service dog training in Georgia.

Then Connor and the dog will train for two weeks together before he comes home to the Murphy's.

"If there is something specific the dog hasn't learned in training that connor needs, he will be able to pick it up," says Dudley.

Ken says, "Not only for child, but for parents, it's a major life change when they get the dogs."

Michele Silva asks Connor "What is the first thing you want your dog to do?"

Connor replies, "Open the doors!"

And they won't be just doors to the house, but to a whole new world.

From Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sam's Club and Milk-Bone teamed up to buy the $20,000-$30,000 for Connor Murphy.

It's a program that's been around for 10 years.

Connor has SMA . It's a genetic disease that affects the muscles, the ability to walk, talk, even swallow.

The announcement, the check for the dog was presented at Sam's Club in West Knoxville Wednesday morning with a crowd of Connor's friends and family, and local media.

His mother, Lise Murphy says the dog will give him independence as in help turn on and off lights, open doors, pick things up, even help him play catch.

But most of all, Connor's canine could save his life. Lise tells us, "Since he doesn't swallow, the spit builds up and he can choke and its very scary. "So if a dog was there and pushed his head forward, it would be big."

The dog is still in training, then Connor will get to train with him for two weeks before it comes home to the Murphy's house in Knoxville.

On Friday, Local 8 News anchor Michele Silva shows us more of this gift we call volunteer spirit fro Connor. how his life could change, give him more freedom, to be like other kids, including a simple game of catch.

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