Centerville family raising money to buy a service dog for son with Down syndrome

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CENTERVILLE — A Centerville family wants to grow their family by four legs to help their oldest son who was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Peek into the Pilcher family's backyard, and the smiles and laughter you'll find are near picture-perfect.

Morgan Pilcher, a wife and the mom of three boys, said when it comes to the family's oldest son, Cyrus, it's all about being the best big brother.

"He loves his brothers. It's his most favorite thing," said Pilcher.

There's only one thing missing from this picture to help out their 7-year-old son, Cyrus, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

"He will run away from us and run straight into a street or into a raging river or any of those kind of things. It gets really hard and really scary," Pilcher said.

It's nothing man's best friend can't handle, which is why the Pilcher family is raising money to buy a service dog for Cyrus.

The service dog would stay with Cyrus, and the dog would go wherever he goes to keep him away from those danger areas. "When he runs from us, the dog would be with him to keep him away from that until we could catch up to him," Pilcher said.

The Pilcher family is working with Golden Healer Service Dogs, a Draper-based nonprofit organization that teams up the tail-wagging.

Mike Carlson, CEO of Golden Healer Service Dogs, said they typically assign golden retrievers, labrador retrievers, or a mixture of golden doodles.

Carlson said the process takes anywhere from two to three years to raise these dogs, along with thousands of dollars.

"Somewhere between from $40,000 to $60,000 generally," Carlson said.

He said the training process for the pups starts early. "It starts out as soon as they're born. We do some specific things to help with the stress management skills," he said.

While the organization foots most of the cost, the Pilcher family still has to raise $10,000 for their service pup.

Peace of mind and more picture-perfect moments are priceless, the family said.

"Knowing that the dog will be there as another set of eyes, so that if I look at my baby for a minute, Cyrus isn't gone. It's just another way to be able to enjoy going out as a family and not have to always be scared," Pilcher said.

The family has raised a little under half of the $10,000 they need to pay toward getting their service pup.

Those who wish to help can visit

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