Anyone visiting the Dafoe home in Saskatoon will receive a warm welcome at the door by the family dog, Scarlet, a tiny, joyful white ball of fluff. At first, she will be excited by the prospect of attention from a new person, and she will happily anticipate a few pats on the head and scratches behind the ears. But despite Scarlet’s enthusiastic greeting, she is clearly sweet-tempered and calm, particularly for a young puppy. Soon after meeting you, she will head contentedly back to her preferred playmates, Kaiden and Graysyn Dafoe.
Scarlet became part of the Dafoe family through The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. Children’s Wish is an incredible organization dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of Canadian youth between the ages of 3 and 17 who have been diagnosed with life-threatening and terminal illnesses. Since their establishment as an organization over thirty years ago, Children’s Wish has granted the heartfelt wishes of over 27,000 children across Canada.
Siblings Kaiden and Graysyn wished for a puppy, and their wish was granted in early 2019. Kaiden, who will be four years old in November, was born with a heart defect and a chromosomal syndrome, and his condition is palliative. Because of his limited mobility and cognitive capacity, his family was initially unsure that a wish would be beneficial for Kaiden. However, they noticed that Kaiden was responding well to the therapy dogs he met at the hospital, and his older sister, Graysyn, desperately wanted a puppy; their parents realized that a dog would actually be the ideal wish for Kaiden. After extensive research on breeders, they chose Scarlet, a now four-month-old Cavachon, a breed noted for their intelligence and calm nature.
Morgan Dafoe, Kaiden’s mother, is so thankful they decided to proceed with Kaiden’s wish. “What is so amazing about Children’s Wish,” she says, holding Scarlet and scratching her behind the ears, “is their dedication to and the respect for the uniqueness of each child’s needs. While families ultimately need to decide what makes the most sense for them and what is best for their child, Children’s Wish can provide the necessary support to make their wish a reality.”
The bond between Kaiden and Scarlet is evident at first glance. Scarlet is cuddly and calm with Kaiden, seeming to be instinctively attuned to his unique needs. Morgan notes that Scarlet whines each morning when Kaiden wakes up, and in turn, he responds to her as much as he is capable. In the kitchen, Graysyn and Scarlet are playing with toys together, a regular occurrence their home now. Morgan says that Graysyn chose the name Scarlet after a character in her brother’s favourite movie, Minions. She loves to dress Scarlet in funny costumes, and Morgan enjoys watching the friendship that is developing between her daughter and their new puppy.
Scarlet’s companionship is important for Kaiden’s happiness and well-being now, but her presence in their lives will also be essential for their family’s future. Eventually, Morgan says that they want to train Scarlet as a therapy dog for Graysyn.“The wish is about Kaiden,” Morgan says. “But it’s also about Graysyn and the whole family as we prepare for the road ahead.”
In 2019, K+S Potash Canada announced a $225,000 gift to Children’s Wish Foundation, Saskatchewan Chapter so that they can continue doing what they do best: granting young children the opportunity to realize their greatest wishes, and providing hope and joy to deserving families in our province.