Tallulah and Khari: Best friends amid pandemic

Tallulah's life as a service dog

Gardendale, Ala. (WBRC) - This update on Tallulah is long overdue. It was delayed, like so many things, by the pandemic. Tallulah is the golden doodle service dog that was raised by the WBRC newsroom as a puppy. Through Service Dogs of Alabama, she was matched with 17-year-old Khari McCrary, who suffers from severe seizures. Tallulah is trained as a seizure alert dog and has been a great help to Khari over the past year.

Khari and Tallulah.
Khari and Tallulah. (Source: Janet Hall/WBRC)

In the first week of March, I visited Gardendale High School to see how Khari and Tallulah were doing in the classroom. Exceptional Education Teacher, James Storie, explained that fellow students had become accustomed to their four-legged classmate. He says they realize Tallulah is, “Just part of Khari. They understand the dog is there to help Khari; not a classroom pet.”

Within two weeks of my visit, the school was shut down due to the pandemic. Months later, Khari and her family were surprised to learn the Gardendale High School yearbook had been dedicated to Tallulah. She touched the hearts of everyone at school, but she is a game changer for Khari.

Yearbook dedication.
Yearbook dedication. (Source: Janet Hall/WBRC)

Khari’s condition had improved greatly over the past year as Tallulah sensed her seizures coming on and could calm her, sometimes even stop seizures from happening. If the two were ever separated, Khari would become anxious and miss having her best friend by her side.

Khari and Lula.
Khari and Lula. (Source: Janet Hall/WBRC)

However, much of that progress has disappeared as Khari has been isolated during the pandemic to protect her from COVID-19. She’s missing friends and the classroom experience. Khari’s mom, Moniqueca Barfield says, “I think she’s just losing a lot of her motor skills. Now it’s all just wheelchair. So it’s difficult physically and mentally for her and myself. So, it’s just hard.”

Tallulah is a bright spot for them, as she is still by Khari’s side alerting everyone to oncoming seizures and easing some of the stress brought on by the pandemic. Barfield says, “We are so thankful to have Tallullah because Khari still has a friend.”

Khari can count on all of us here at WBRC as friends, too. We wish Khari and Tallulah the best as we all work through the pandemic together.

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