Flipping through the pages of the crisp scrapbook, Julie is reminded of the months it took her family to get where they are today. In the pictures before her, her children’s smiling faces stare back at her as they met their puppy for the first time.
Anavah, the second youngest of Julie’s four children, was born with a congenital heart disease. Because of the congenital malformations of her heart as well as a hypoplastic arch, she has undergone four heart surgeries, three of which were open heart.
By age 11, life has already brought many challenges to Anavah, especially in the last few months. She is currently awaiting her fifth heart surgery, as well as getting situated from her family’s recent move to the United States from Israel. While they’re American citizens, and English is the language most frequently spoken around their home, the adjustment to a new culture has been difficult. It is especially hard for Anavah as she battles an ischemic brain injury from one of her heart surgeries.
When Anavah received the news that she would receive a wish from Make-A-Wish® Philadelphia, Delaware & Susquehanna Valley, things started to look up. “We honestly did not know she had such a strong desire to have a dog until she was given the opportunity to dream,” said Julie.
They were already a family, but the idea of this dog coming into their home bonded them together like never before. “We will always remember the six month wish journey as a very special time, shared Julie. “It gave her something to look forward to while she was at the
hospital for all day check-ups.” These months were a time of healing, rather than a time focusing on the barriers of their new surroundings, or the worrying about the upcoming surgery. They were a time of hope.
On Anavah’s wish day, the family awoke early, much earlier than they needed to, partly to finish some last-minute preparations, but mostly out of pure excitement. The six of them piled into their car exhilarated to begin the two-hour drive to the farm. Meeting their mini golden doodle puppy, Willow, for the first time was a, “joy unspeakable,” says Julie. Anavah and Willow bonded right away, exchanging tons of hugs and kisses.
In their short time having Willow, she has brought much more to their family than they ever could have imagined. She has become a best friend for Anavah while instilling confidence and responsibility in her. Willow gave Anavah something to talk about with other children her age and helped her form new friendships, which was once difficult for her. Willow has brought, and will continue to bring, love, joy, and hope to their whole family. “Anavah was just at the hospital for extensive tests and all she could talk about was getting back to her dog,” Julie explained. That is the lasting impact of a wish.