By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Technically, Noni is a Lab/Rottweiler mix, but to Tony and Maria Trussova of Delano, their daughter’s new service dog might as well be an angel.
“We’re very happy and feel very blessed,” Maria said. “I’m so thankful for the community, and their help raising money.”
Through a benefit back in the spring of 2010, as well as other assistance from friends and neighbors, more than enough funds were raised for Luba Trussova’s $9,000 service dog.
Luba first met her new companion May 19, and the Trussova family hasn’t been the same since.
“We weren’t expecting such a big impact right away,” Maria said. “It’s amazing how this dog became so attached to Luba in such a short time.”
Luba, 17, was born with an extremely rare chromosomal abnormality a duplicate chromosome number 6, which makes her mentally challenged. On top of that, she has autism.
In the past, Luba’s disability made it extremely difficult for the Trussova family to go places together.
“I was constantly distracted,” Maria said, explaining that Luba would often wander off in stores, or panic if there were loud noises, bright lights, or sudden movements.
Now, Luba wears a belt, which is attached to her black, furry friend. By holding the dog’s leash, Maria is able to easily keep track of her daughter.
“Basically, the dog is helping me to take care of Luba,” she said.
The dog also calms Luba in situations that normally frighten her, like thunderstorms.
“If there’s a storm, I automatically wake up, waiting for Luba to come out of her room,” Maria said. “Now, she’s not crying. She’s either sleeping through the night, or I hear her laughing.”
Every time Luba gets out of her bed at night, her new pal will alert Tony and Maria, and take them straight to her.
“It’s made my life much easier,” Maria said.
The dog is known as “Noni,” a name Luba picked out because she loves macaroni.
Their first outing together was Luba’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese the end of June.
“We go there every year because it’s her favorite place, but she never participated much,” Maria said. “This year, she was not scared of anything. She was happy, because the dog was right there with her.”
Because of Noni, Luba was also able to go with her parents and three younger siblings (Dennis, 17; Isaac, 13; and Anastasia, 6) on a trip to Chicago recently. Luba also has a 20-year-old brother named John.
“It was really cool; she was totally fine,” Maria said.
The family thought there would be an issue when they toured the John Hancock Center, because the clouds and fog were starting to upset Luba. However, she simply sat down on the sidewalk, and Noni set his front paws in her lap.
“She calmed down really fast,” Maria said. “Normally, it would take hours.”
Worth the wait
The process of getting a service dog took longer than expected, but it was well worth the wait, according to Maria.
The Trussova family filled out the application for a service dog in October 2009, after hearing about the idea from a friend. They chose Capable Canines of Wisconsin, Inc. because a trainer personally comes to the family’s house to help the dog and owner adjust.
Service dogs are trained before they meet their new owner. The process often takes about a year, but Luba’s happened to take longer.
“The first dog didn’t work out, because it was quite young,” Maria said. “The director felt uncomfortable with the way the dog was behaving.”
Their new dog, Noni, was ready to be placed last winter, but because of an infection, the family didn’t meet her until spring.
Luba took Noni to a week of summer school recently, and also plans to have Noni with her at school this fall.
“The dog is trained so well; if Luba goes, the dog goes with her,” Maria said. “We’re very thankful.”