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the story of a Alida and Mr.Gibbs

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Alida and Mr.Gibbs

The story of a girl, a Goldendoodle, and good times

by Kaitlyn Santos

To all the service dogs, who help people every day.


 The story of a girl, a Goldendoodle, and good times

Alida and Mr.Gibbs

by Kaitlyn Santos

Introducing Alida, a three year old, and Mr.Gibbs, her goldendoodle best friend. The two run around everywhere in Georgia and share an unbreakable bond. They do everything together.


Having a blast, they turn the little moments into big ones. As the days go on, the two of them form a team of never-ending giggles and good times.  The story of them is unbelievably incredible. But, it is quite believable that they love each other and that their friendship is one that will last forever.  Their everyday lives is a touching story. Not only are they best buddies, they’re keeping each other alive and breathing.

Alida Knobloch isn’t your average three year old girl. Alida was diagnosed with a disease called Neuroendocrine Hyperplasia of Infancy when she was only eight months old. Neuroendocrine Hyperplasia of Infancy, or NEHI, is a disease that makes it tough to breathe. Believe it or not, but theres only about 500 documented cases of NEHI in the United States.

“After we were told how rare it was and that there wasn't a lot of information available there were about a million more questions” -Aaron Knobloch

Baby Alida with her dad, Aaron Knobloch.

From the day Alida was born, doctors knew that something wasn’t right. Her breathing was rapid and heavy. And, she had unfamiliar symptoms.These conditions had EVERYONE convinced that a problem existed. Also, it had Debbie and Aaron Knobloch very concerned.


As they were desperately trying to figure out the problem, doctors worked and worked.  Everyone was worried about poor Alida.  No matter where they went, or who they were working with, an answer was not coming. Many different people surround Alida, eager for the answer to her mysterious odd case. This little infant had left so many people confused.  


Doctors had many problems figuring out what was wrong with Alida. They didn’t have much background knowledge. Because they lacked important information about this disease, it prevented them from finding a conclusion. 

"Gotta find a cure!!!" -Anonymous

Since she has had breathing problems since she was six months old, The Knobloch’s had to go from doctor to doctor to doctor trying to figure out what was wrong with their little girl, until finally they got the answer of NEHI.


NEHI makes it that Alida has to breathe through tubes that are attached to a six pound oxygen tank. Luckily, the oxygen tank helps Alida return to full health.

Before the tank she was rarely at full health, therefore she was late on her milestones. The oxygen tank helped her quickly catch up.

Baby Alida sleeping on her Dad

Alida lives with her mom, Debbie, Her dad, Aaron, and her little sister. They all live in a house in Georgia. The Knobloch's used to live in Utah but they had to move once Alida was diagnosed. Because the altitude in Utah made it harder than it already was for Alida to breathe, they moved to Loganville, Georgia.

The Knobloch family.

As Alida began to crawl around her house in Georgia, her dad, Aaron Knobloch, built a walker that had a pocket for the oxygen. But, soon Alida would be walking and the walker wouldn’t be good enough. 

Debbie and Aaron looked for many things to carry Alida’s oxygen but couldn’t find anything. Well thats what they thought until Aaron saw a TV program about service dogs.


A map of Georgia, with a star next to Loganville.

And then, the researching began.  Debbie and Aaron did a ton of studying about service dogs,for a long period of time. Finally, the family has found a reliable service dog trainer and seller in Loganville, Georgia.  Although the family was currently living in Utah,  and since they had to move somewhere with a lower altitude, they moved to Loganville. After settling in, they would soon head to visit the dog trainer and seller.

Mr. Gibbs when he was 8 months old.

And thats where Mr.Gibbs enters the scene. Mr.Gibbs is a goldendoodle that has been living with Ashleigh Kinsleigh, the service dog trainer. When Alida and Mr. Gibbs first met, Alida was two years old and Mr.Gibbs was less than a year old.Alida and the fluffy dog instantly started playing and many giggles followed. Originally, the Knobloch’s were thinking about a dog that was more widely known and used for being a service dog, like a retriever. But they could all tell that Alida wanted Mr.Gibbs.  


And thats where Mr.Gibbs enters the scene. Mr.Gibbs is a goldendoodle that has been living with Ashleigh Kinsleigh, the service dog trainer. When Alida and Mr. Gibbs first met, Alida was two years old and Mr.Gibbs was less than a year old. 




Alida and the fluffy dog instantly started playing and many giggles followed. Originally, the Knobloch’s were thinking about a dog that was more widely known and used for being a service dog, like a retriever. But they could all tell that Alida wanted Mr.Gibbs.  


Alida and Mr.gibbs laying down together

Alida brushing Mr.Gibbs

The Knobloch's and Ashleigh planned playdates between Alida and Mr.Gibbs so that they could become friends. They became BEST friends. Since the moment the two met, they had acted like best friends. They simply thought of each other as playmates. Both of them loved to have the others company.

 “They weren’t sure they wanted to go with a golden doodle,But she went crazy for him.” -Ashleigh Kinsleigh

Because Alida loves to run around, and dogs are friendly animals with a ton of energy, they are the perfect thing to suit Alida. A dog that is well-trained would be holding up the weight of the oxygen tank. Therefore, making Alida’s only job to give him commands and enjoy life. Since this seemed like a perfect solution, the family knew that Mr.Gibbs was the answer to the problem.



"I hope Mr. Gibbs serves you well." -Anonymous

After it was official that they wanted Mr.Gibbs, It got harder for Mr. and Mrs. Knobloch. Since the youngest age most service dogs work for is five years old, teaching Gibbs to listen to Alida was a challenge. Mr.Gibbs was up for the hard work. They train Mr.Gibbs every day. Wait, thats not all, The also train Alida.


No, they don’t walk her on a leash, but they do have to work with her.

She knows all of the words that she has say to Mr.Gibbs, like “Down and at ease” therefore she gets mad when Mr.Gibbs doesn’t listen.

But its not really that Mr.Gibbs isn't listening, its that he can’t understand. As you know, three year olds don’t speak clearly so Mr.Gibbs doesn't know what he’s suppose to do.


Service dog trainer Ashleigh Kinsleigh, Alida, and Mr.Gibbs

"Best of luck!!" -Anonymous

Learning to understand Alida isn’t the only thing that Mr.Gibbs has to learn. Most dogs, especially puppies, want to play with other dogs or people. 

"He had to learn to get under the table at restaurants.  He had to learn that if there were other animals he couldn’t just go and play with them.  He had to stay next to his girl.  He also had to build up to be able to carry around the full weight of the six-pound tank” -Ashleigh Kinsleigh

Alida and Mr.Gibbs go EVERYWHERE together. It’s not an option to leave him at home since he carries Alida’s Oxygen tanks on a vest. Or as Alida said “He carries my O’s” Since there always together, Mr.Gibbs has to learn to go and stay under the table when Alida and her family eats. Alida and Mr.Gibbs also go on adventures together. Mr.Gibbs goes up and down slides with Alida and he learned to sit by the swing when shes swinging.


But she can only have it off for a very small amount of time, about 40 minutes, so she usually has it on.  When Alida goes to sleep at night, its Mr.Gibbs’ break time. They hook her up to a concentrator at night.


Despite the fact that they’re always together, sometimes Alida doesn't need her oxygen tank. Alida actually takes it off at times, like when shes taking a bath. 


“He’s been a great addition to the family”-Aaron

Alida and Gibbs at Disneyland

Alida and Mr.Gibbs on TODAY.

 The story of the two went viral. Alida was frequently on TV shows such has TODAY. Soon, the Knobloch’s were widely known. Interviews explained her disease, NEHI. They also asked many different questions Debbie and Aaron Knobloch, and also a few to Alida.  


“We want her to have the most normal childhood she possibly can” -Aaron

 The fluffy puppy doesn’t just supply Oxygen and a best buddie to Alida, He also provides independence for her. He allows Alida to not always be attached to her parents.  Alida and Gibbs hope that all the training is done by the time Alida is in kindergarten so that they can go to school together and have a normal day.  

The goldendoodle and Alida love each other so much and have a bond so strong that when doing a TV questionnaire a reporter asked Alida “Who’s your best friend?” Alida replied “Gibbs."


"I found this story in the readers digest and it touched my heart." -Anonymous

“He’s my best dog”-Alida

Alida and Mr.Gibbs on the cover of Reader's Digest

There is hope that Alida’s life doesn’t always have to be like this. Some children tend to grow out of NEHI. If she does, she might still have some trouble breathing but definitely not as much as she has now. Hopefully, Alida’s life won’t have to always be like this. But for now, Alida is just fine.  

"Hope one day you can breath free and healthy! " -Anonymous

Neuroendocrine Hyperplasia of Infancy is a rare disease that affects Alida. It’s a lung disease that was classified in 2005.  When someone has NEHI they usually have difficulty breathing. Trouble getting oxygen is what makes people get unable to breath like normal humans.  Children with NEHI have heavy breathing. Breathing like that uses up more calories than regular breathing so having NEHI can lead to having trouble gaining weight. 

 Since NEHI was discovered in 2005, there isn’t much information at all. 2005 is too recent to have a lot of information on the disease. Doctors never got a chance to really look into the sickness, making it a disadvantage to anyone with NEHI. Also the fact that NEHI is very rare, is another disadvantage. To further explain, since there's less cases on NEHI, there is less information.  

 Because Alida has NEHI, she has nose tubes that are connected to her oxygen tank. The tubes carry oxygen from the tank to her. Alida and many other kids are fortunate to have the oxygen tank, since its what is keeping them alive. Although oxygen tanks aren’t the easiest thing, they still help. Today, doctors are still in search for a solution for NEHI.



More about NEHI

Service dogs are dogs that are specially trained to help people with disabilities. They can work with people with many different disabilities. They can do many different things, such as opening and closing doors and turning light switches on and off. They even can pick up objects out of their owners reach for them. Service dogs keep many people alive. If a dog is a service dog then they will usually have a vest on them.

There is many different kinds of service dogs. Each one is trained for something specific. For example, there is Diabetic service dogs, hearing dogs, and mobility dogs. Diabetic service dogs are a great help for people with diabetes. Even in a loud place with a lot of different scents, the dogs can smell if their owners sugar level is high or low. The dog will it will nudge his/her owner to alert them, and will nudge them harder as the scent gets stronger.


More about Service dogs

After the Story:

This year, Alida and Mr.Gibbs went to kindergarten together as they always dreamed. Alida is now five years old. Shes still a happy ball of joy and smiles. She has improved but NEHI will always be a part of how she lives. Luckily, she can now take longer break off of oxygen. Debbie and Aaron have started a foundation, to raise money for NEHI research, called Children’s Interstitial Lung Disease Foundation, also known as chILD.


A young girl has a life changing disease, a hard time breathing, and trouble living a normal life. Her name is Alida Knobloch. She isn’t fighting NEHI -the disease- alone. Her 4 pawed best friend makes every step easier. He provides comfort and an excellent playmate.

Kaitlyn Santos is a 6th grader living in New York.  She enjoys going outside. She loves to cook and bake. Her favorite class in school is art. Also, she always loves to play some tennis.

About the Author