The Founding Years
The foundation for Domino Service Dogs (DSD) was laid more than eleven years ago. In 2005, Barbara Henry’s youngest daughter, Caitlin, had a severe asthma attack and was rushed to Children’s Hospital on a Flight for Life helicopter. The end result of her hospital visit was a diagnosis of spinal cord injury. As a result of her injury, Caitlin would use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Despite changes to her health and mobility, Caitlin was unwilling to sacrifice her independence, and therefore, when she was eight years old, Caitlin insisted that she must have a service dog.
Sometimes things begin with a need. Caitlin needed a service dog. Therefore, Barbara began looking for a service dog organization that could help her daughter. Ultimately, Barbara was unable to find her daughter the assistance she needed. At the time, most reputable service dog organizations either charged substantial fees or required that applicants be 12 years of age or have a terminal diagnosis. Caitlin did not meet either of those requirements. Eventually, Caitlin and her mom, Barbara, decided they would train Caitlin’s service dog themselves.
It took almost 2 years to train Badger. By 2007, Badger was helping Caitlin walk, get up from the floor, and propel her manual wheelchair. In addition to performing mobility tasks, Badger gave Caitlin independence, self esteem, and help forging new friendships.
Badger spent 6 years by Caitlin’s side. During that time, she attended every one of Caitlin’s important events. With Badger as her companion, Caitlin attended everything from school field trips and family vacations to doctor appointments and hospital stays. During her time in service, Badger mitigated Caitlin’s disability by helping her with mobility and more: pulling her wheelchair, helping her walk, stabilizing her balance, and building her self-esteem. By 2012, Badger had begun her gentle transition into retirement.
Domino Service Dogs has provided support to more than 100 owner-trained service dog teams.
By 2012, people with disabilities were seeking out Barbara Henry because of her natural ability to understand the needs of people with disabilities and their service dogs. Eventually, the number of owner-trained service dog teams receiving Ms. Henry’s assistance grew. Facing these new opportunities with Caitlin by her side, Ms. Henry decided to form a non-profit organization that would empower people, four paws at a time. Domino Service Dogs was founded on August 12, 2013. It was the beginning of a marvelous adventure and an amazing community where people often showed up as strangers, but left as friends.
Over the years, Caitlin’s service dogs, Badger and Talia, attended every important event alongside her. With a service dog by her side, Caitlin attended parties, community events, doctor appointments, hospital stays, elementary school, high school, and Red Rocks Community College. By 2017, Caitlin was working towards her goal of attending Harvard University when on May 22, 2017, as a result of her disability, Caitlin suddenly passed away. Caitlin was 18 years old.
On May 31, 2017, by authorization of Governor John W. Hickenlooper and in loving memory of Caitlin Tyra Brady, the flag over the Colorado State Capital was retired. May 31 is now Caitlin Tyra Brady Day.
Caitlin dreamed that Domino Service Dogs would be run by people with disabilities, for the benefit of people with disabilities. It is our mission to continue helping Caitlin’s dream take flight by assisting people with disabilities to train their own service dogs using reward-based training techniques. Additionally, it is our intention to leave this world a little bit better place because there once was a little girl named Caitlin Tyra Brady, who dreamed a really big dream.
Caitlin Tyra Brady
07/08/1998 – 05/22/2017
Caitlin Tyra means pure thunder. Caitlin was all that and more. To all who knew and loved her, she will remain, forever 18.
Barbara Henry, Executive Director, Lead Trainer, and Forever Caitlin’s Mom
“When life hands you Lemons, make Grape Juice, or Apple Juice. Just make anything, other than Lemonade.”Caitlin Tyra Brady