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Support dog returned to son with cerebral palsy after family shares story in Cache Valley

Posted at 9:25 PM, Sep 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 13:05:55-04

UPDATE: Indi has been returned home, and Hestevan and his family are happy to have her back.

The family said Indi was clean and fed but missing her harness and tags.

Original story continues below:

AVON, Utah — The family of a man with cerebral palsy in Cache County is pleading for the safe return of their son’s companion animal after it went missing from their driveway last Thursday.

At the end of a quiet country road in Avon, Utah, you’ll find the Hennessy family.

“We do live out in the middle of nowhere, we have just a few neighbors,” said Desiree Hennessy as she stood on her front porch.

They have always loved their quaint neighborhood, until last Thursday.

“We were all just sitting outside,” Desiree explained. “We made a comment about how there was more traffic because of the salmon spawning at Porcupine Dam. We were like, 'Let's run in the house,' and we called for Indi and she was just gone.”

Their dog had gone missing.

“We were playing with her, we were engaged with her, and then within minutes she was gone,” Desiree said in shock.

“I think someone was driving past and they saw a cute dog, and all they would have had to of done is open the door and she would have jumped right in,” Desiree said.

But this wasn’t just any dog — the Mini Schnauzer is also their son Hestevan’s companion animal.

Hestevan has cerebral palsy and is immobile and non-verbal. The dog, named Indi, helps him immensely.

“Hestevan has extreme brain damage, so cerebral palsy,” Desiree said as she stood next to her son in his wheelchair. “He has seizures, he has hypoxia issues and he eats through a G-tube, so he has a lot of conditions — but the reason we got Indi wasn’t so much for the medical conditions as it was the companionship.”

Desiree said Indi never leaves their son’s side. However, they do give her a ‘break’ every day to allow her to play, run around the property, and visit their neighbor (who likes to spoil her with dog treats).

“She had a pink harness on and on it had a big tag that said her name, Indi, and our phone number and address, and then on the flip side it said, ‘Companion dog: I am not lost, I visit neighbors,'” Desiree said.

“I guess I thought the best of people, that no one would ever steal a dog, especially if it said, ‘Companion animal,’ and now I’m thinking the total opposite,” she continued.

Now the loss of Indi is taking a toll on the family.

“[Hestevan] gets so upset if he becomes alone, so just having a dog there that loves him, it allows me to sleep in a different room than him, it allows us to walk into the other room to use the bathroom or walk into the kitchen or go get the mail without him just falling apart,” Desiree said.

But the biggest impact is on Hestevan.

“He knows she’s gone, he knows he’s upset, but we cannot explain to him, we can’t explain to him why,” Desiree said.

Desiree said the family is now relying on the kindness of strangers to bring Indi home.

“We’re not mad, we don’t blame anybody, we just want her back," she said.