Special to the Journal
ATLANTA (Oct. 14, 2013)-Chancer, became an internationally beloved service dog after being featured in The New York Times Magazine’s (2.5.12) article “Wonder Dog” by Melissa Faye Green. His story is now being celebrated in the just released book DEVOTED: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life with Dogs, by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh. National Geographic approached the Winokur family of Atlanta to include Chancer in this collection of inspiring stories about canine companions. For a compelling preview of the video trailer of DEVOTED, click here: http://youtu.be/Gmor5e6HfoY.
Chancer is the first certified Assistance Dog trained for someone living with the developmental disability, FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome). FAS, an organic brain-based disorder, can occur when a pregnant woman consumes alcohol. When the Winokurs’ adopted four-year-old son, Iyal, was given the diagnosis of this potentially lifelong debilitating birth defect, they could never have imagined the compass that would guide them through a maze of medical dead-ends and a landscape exploding with emotional minefields. Chancer has opened the door to tell a narrative that shouts to be heard but is often whispered due to the nature of this 100% preventable but 0% curable disability. Yet, according to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 1 out of 100 live births is prenatally exposed to alcohol.
The Winokurs’ divine intervention appeared in the guise of a courageous canine weighing in at 90 lbs., covered with luxurious fur and trained to inhabit the very soul of a complicated and lonely boy. Beyond the unimaginable support Chancer brings to Iyal, Iyal’s mother and father, Donnie and Harvey, realized the opportunity that Chancer brought as an advocacy vehicle to put a face on an invisible disability. Chancer’s story has been heard around the world, when “Wonder Dog” became the number one most emailed article in the first 30 days it appeared online globally for The New York Times. The Winokurs’ story has since been reprinted in Reader’s Digest Canada, Reader’s Digest India, Marie Claire, Australia and Guide Post magazine among numerous blogs.
To find out more about Chancer and Iyal’s story, click here: www.thechancerchronicles.com . The Winokurs have written two books about Chancer, published by Better Endings, New Beginnings; “My Invisible World – life with my brother, his disability and his service dog,” by Iyal’s 11-year old sister, Morasha, and “Nuzzle – love between a boy and his service dog,” by Donnie Winokur.
October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, raising awareness of the hundreds of dogs that need to be rescued from shelters all over the country. Anyone who has ever had a dog as a companion knows the importance of getting out this message; Adoption and dogs – saves lives.