PORT ST. LUCIE – Two years after her leukemia diagnosis, teenager Allison Garcia has fought cancer to remission and is well enough to return to school.
And as the new owner of an Australian Shepherd puppy, she will need energy.
The 13-year-old was welcomed to her home, a few blocks west of US 1, with the pup provided by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, along with the dog breeder networker PuppySpot.
“Even since I was 8, I’ve wanted this puppy,” Allison said as she held her new blue-eyed dog, Mitsuri, in her lap for the first time on Saturday. “It’s been my favorite breed ever since.”
The 9-week-old blue merle Australian Shepherd puppy is named after an anime character from the show “Demon Slayer.”
About a dozen people, including friends and extended family members, were present for Mitsuri’s arrival.
Allison went to pediatric intensive care for treatment in the spring of 2020. She developed an interest in drawing while there, and her love for dogs has not waned.
His leukemia has been in remission since March 2021.
Petland and Chewy have provided a basket of toys, treats and dog food, while a local vet is caring for Mitsuri.
The one thing no one else could offer is a puppy training experience. But Allison has that herself.
“I raised a German Shepherd when I was younger,” she said.
His interest in animals is wide. Besides loving dogs, she owns two rabbits and two guinea pigs, said her mother, Tamara Navarro.
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Make a wish, established in Phoenix in 1980, satisfies the desires of seriously ill children for opportunities and travel they otherwise could not enjoy. The focus is on one child for every wish, but the impact goes beyond that, the organization said on its website.
“Wishes impact everyone involved,” officials said. “I wish children, volunteers, donors, sponsors, health professionals and communities. Parents could finally feel like they can be optimistic. And still others could achieve all that they have to offer the world through volunteer work or philanthropy.”
Maria Taube, volunteer coordinator for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, connected Allison’s family with the dog. She was involved in dozens of wishes, including about eight other children who wanted pets.
“The most popular wish nationally is Disneyland,” Taube said. “But since we’ve been here in Florida, a lot of kids want trips or pets.”
For animal wishes, Make-A-Wish contracts with PuppySpot, which connects families to dogs. The two organizations granted the wishes of more than 200 families.
“Pets make kids feel safe,” Taube said. “It’s like a stuffed animal that you can talk to. (Mitsuri) will be a part of his life forever.”
Allison’s next wish? She wants Make-A-Wish to continue to make children around the world “as happy as I am.”
Lamaur Stancil is Treasure Coast’s regional business reporter covering businesses and industries including retail, tourism and hospitality. Contact him at 321-987-7179 or [email protected] and follow him at Lamaur Stancil on Facebook and @TCPalmLStancil on Twitter