Trystyn's wish: a best friend and a lifesaver

LAKEWOOD -- When a Pierce County girl got to make a wish, she narrowed it down to two choices. Her parents repeatedly showed her a picture of Mickey Mouse and a photo of a puppy. Instead of a trip to Disneyland, 5-year old Trystyn kept going for the dog.

Like most black labs, Gonia is a tennis ball buff. But her first love isn't chasing after the ball. It's the person throwing it. Gonia and Trystyn have been inseparable since they met four months ago.

Trystyn has Dravet Syndrome, which is a form of epilepsy. She was diagnosed when she was six months old, and her life since has required frequent intubation and isolation. And Trystyn has terrifying seizures.

"It's heartbreaking," said Trystyn's mother Chris Denbow-Emineth. "We've been dealing with it for 5 years and when she has one it's horrific. You just don't know if it's going to stop."

So when Trystyn wished for a puppy, the Make A Wish Foundation did one better, flying the family to Kansas and pairing Trystyn with a service dog.

"When she got there she was petting her and sitting with her and as the week progressed, it just grew," described Trystyn's mother Sirena Denbow-Emineth. "She kept calling her 'my Gonia.'"

Gonia gives the whole family newfound independence. It used to be, someone always had to be by her side. "With Gonia around, it's allowed us to be in another room so we can clean, so we can run something to the back of the house," Sirena said.

Gonia is part caretaker and knows when something is wrong. "Gonia can smell the scent of Trystyn, when her chemical has changed in her body," Chris explained. "Gonia will let Trystyn know something is wrong and then Gonia will come to us and paw us and won't stop until we do something about it."

That makes Gonia not just Trystyn's best friend and wish come true. She's potentially her lifesaver.

Trystyn's trip to Kansas to pick up Gonia wouldn't have happened without the Make A Wish Foundation of Washington and Alaska. You can help by donating your airline frequent flier miles. Last year, the local chapter used more than 31 million miles to send kids and their families on their wishes. Right now, there are 400 children waiting on their wishes, and more than half include travel. Help put wishes in flight by donating miles or making a financial contribution.