Interview with Sayoko Murase
At Abram’s Nation, we always say that the families are indeed the heart of this company. Every month, we will bring you stories about our families and how The Safety Sleeper® has improved their lives.
December's featured family member is Sayoko Murase. Sayoko is mom to Jack and his doggie brother Charlee. Along with her husband Joe, Sayoko adopted Jack when he was 5 months old. He was then diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome when he was almost 2 years old. From this awesome family, learn more about life with Angelman Syndrome and the impact of furry siblings on our children! Read more below.
How did you first connect with the Angelman community? How long after were you introduced to The Safety Sleeper®?
We first became a part of the Angelman community when we connected with the Angelman Syndrome Foundation, shortly after Jack's diagnosis. About 6 months later, he was outgrowing his bed and he had just learned how to pull up to stand so we knew we needed a bed that would keep him safe at night.
As luck would have it, Amanda Moore who is the CEO of the Angelman Syndrome Foundation introduced us to The Safety Sleeper. We never knew that such an amazing bed and solution to our problem existed! We are ever so grateful to Amanda and the ASF family fund for Jack's bed which has been life changing for us in so many ways.
What has The Safety Sleeper meant to your son and the rest of your family? How does Charlee react to his bed?
The Safety Sleeper brings us peace of mind each and every night, knowing that Jack is safe. He can't wander away or fall and get hurt as he could in a crib or a traditional toddler bed. When we snuggle in there together with him, we always marvel at how incredibly well it is designed and it's sturdy construction is impressive. We appreciate the fact that this will be a bed that Jack can grow into for years to come and couldn't imagine him sleeping in any other bed.
Charlee was very interested in making himself comfortable in The Safety Sleeper when we initially set it up but he understands that he is not allowed inside and respects the boundaries. He often likes to lay next to The Safety Sleeper when Jack is inside and keeps him company.
Can you please describe Jack and Charlee's relationship? How do you think this bond has impacted Jack's early development?
I think that Jack and Charlee would describe their relationship as being "brothers who are also best friends". Like many best friends, they are happy just being by each other's side. Their bond has been so life giving to both of them. For the longest time, Jack couldn't sit up on his own. We tried everything and found what worked best was when Charlee sat behind him, Jack wouldn't fall backwards. Even though Jack can't do the things that a typical 3 year old can do, Charlee will always include him in everything, like going on walks or playing tug of war. He will bring the toy to Jack as if to say, "let's play!'. He understands the importance of being inclusive! Over the summer, Jack worked every day to learn how to swim and Charlee was always there cheering him on even though he's not a swimmer himself. He's the only lifeguard we know who hates being splashed by the water!
What made you choose to get a rescue dog? Did you train him to be safe and gentle around Jack, or was there an immediate, instinctual bond?
A decade ago, I fostered my first rescue dog who was a pit bull recovering after being hit by a car. Her name was Ginger. She opened my eyes to how incredible pit bull type dogs are and I've been a pit bull lover and advocate ever since. Around the same time, I was reading a book titled "The Lost Dogs" by Jim Gorant which was the story about Michael Vick's dogs and their rescue and redemption. The story aligned with my own thoughts about how loving, forgiving and resilient pit bull type dogs are.
Charlee also endured a life of abuse before he was rescued and yet here he is, the most nurturing and gentle big brother to Jack. He has been protective of Jack from the beginning and claimed him as his own quite early on.
Charlee's wonderful trainer Diane Bonsignore of Allied Dog Training made the initial introductions and gave us some excellent guidance on how to develop their relationship. She advised us to take things slowly and I do believe that was the key to our success.
What would you like to share with other Angelman families about your journey with Jack and Charlee or experience with The Safety Sleeper?
Our journey to becoming an Angelman family hasn't been easy but we are holding onto hope for Jack's future. With Charlee by his side, Jack feels like he can do anything and he never has to sit on the sidelines. It's been a joy to watch them grow up together and we hope other families will be blessed to know the love of a rescue dog.
Last but not least, we feel so fortunate that the Angelman community is made up of so many incredible families who are always there for each other, whether it's offering helpful advice or sharing their knowledge about life changing solutions such as The Safety Sleeper. We're so grateful to Abram's Nation for creating this one of a kind bed that has truly changed our lives and so many others for the better.