Meet Abby the Super Dog at the FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay
on September 29.



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Meet Abby the Super Dog

Abby Tringhese, Age 6, from Columbiana, Ohio

Why Abby is an #ACHero: At 8 days old, Abby underwent a spinal tap and was quarantined to help her fight a bad case of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). She was later diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, which took hours of therapy and support from her family to overcome. Abby is now able to handle and process her senses like a champ and is quick to offer a hug or a high-five to her big sister, Hannah, who’s courageously battling a brain tumor.

Sidekicks: Her dog, Lily, and her family members’ dogs, Moses and Toby.

Super power: Wagging her tail. Abby can shake off challenges with a super powerful wagging tail and support from her family.

When she’s not busy overcoming obstacles: Abby loves playing outside, jumping on a trampoline and swinging. She also has a great imagination and enjoys playing with her Pet Pal toys.

Did you know fact: Abby loves ALL types of dogs – real and animated. She has 1 dog of her own and Pluto the dog, is her favorite Disney character.

Abby’s story: When Abby steps into a room, you know she’s arrived. She has a magnetic personality and a caring heart. She showers her big sister, Hannah, with hugs, plays endlessly with her Pet Pals and smothers her dogs with love and affection. But, Abby wasn’t always able to express herself the way she does today due to a sensory processing disorder that made feeling and moving a challenge for her.

Abby was born a healthy, full-term baby on Valentine’s Day 2012. She passed her newborn screening tests with flying colors and went home 2 days later. Soon after, though, Abby came down with a bad respiratory infection. At 8 days old, she was admitted to the hospital with a severe case of RSV, a common, very contagious virus that infects the respiratory tract.

“We didn’t realize how bad she was until we arrived at the hospital…it was a very scary time,” said Sarah Tringhese, Abby’s mom. “Abby received a spinal tap because the doctors weren’t certain why she had a high fever and were trying to rule out different causes. Abby was quarantined for over a week while she received antibiotics and staff tried to regulate her oxygen levels.”

A few weeks after coming home from the hospital, Abby’s legs went stiff so she was referred to a neurologist to rule out cerebral palsy and other disorders.

“Once we got her home from the hospital, she didn’t want to be held because she was so sick,” said Sarah. “She wasn’t allowed to be around anyone for months so she learned how to pacify herself and didn’t really learn how to respond to physical touch….”

After many evaluations and months of therapy, Abby was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD), a condition in which the nervous system has trouble receiving messages from the senses and turning them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses.

Since SPD makes it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, it can create challenges in performing everyday tasks, motor clumsiness and behavioral problems.

At 5 months old, Abby started occupational and physical therapy 2 days a week to help with flexibility, strength and fine motor skills in her hands.

She also participated in sensory integration therapy, which introduced her to new textures like slime, Jell-O, rice and tree bark, to help overcome challenges with touch. By exposing her to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive way, over time, her brain would adapt and allow her to process and react to sensations more efficiently.

“As a baby, she didn’t like touching anything and she didn’t like anything touching her, including hugs from us,” said Sarah. “It was hard, but we kept working with her….”

By the time Abby was 2, she successfully overcame her challenges with SPD. It was perfect timing, too, because her family was about to face a new challenge that would require everyone’s support. Abby’s big sister, Hannah, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

“Abby has a really big heart…She feels deeply so when she saw her sister suffering she wasn’t afraid to get right next to her and help,” said Sarah. “She would literally climb in the hospital bed with Hannah to play with her and make her feel happy…to make her feel relaxed.”

Today, Abby still works to build strength in her hands with help from her Aunt Rhonda, who’s an occupational therapist, but no longer needs to see her neurologist. Abby is full of love, affection and spunk, which she puts to good use as a constant source of support for Hannah, who continues to battle her brain tumor.


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