When a devastating diagnosis tears author Donnie Kanter Winokur’s family apart, a service dog may be their best hope to stay together.
Donnie Kanter Winokur and her husband, Harvey, never could have imagined the heart-wrenching struggle that becomes their new reality after they decide to adopt two infants from Russia. As Iyal and Morasha grow, it becomes clear that Iyal’s development is drastically lagging behind his sister’s. By age four, he has a devastating diagnosis: fetal alcohol syndrome. But naming their battle provides little relief as Iyal and his family try to cope with the lifelong impact of his invisible disability. As the Winokurs’ marriage is unraveling, Donnie and Harvey hang on to the last shreds of their own promise.
Desperate to alleviate her son’s constant rages and their crushing toll on the family, Donnie comes up with an innovative, untested, four-pawed solution: a golden retriever service dog named Chancer. Chancer is specially trained to give Iyal a unique love he desperately needs. But in this true-life tale infused with moments of despair, tenderness, and humor, Chancer turns out to be what the entire family has needed to stay—and grow—together.
Donnie Kanter Winokur is a writer, speaker, and human rights advocate. A native of New Jersey, she studied theatre at Catholic University and earned a degree in psychology from Emory University in Atlanta. After honing her skills writing and producing advertising campaigns for clients throughout the Southeast, she created award-winning projects for Discovery, the Smithsonian Institute, and Broderbund/Random House.
Donnie has authored two award-winning children’s books and contributed to national and international magazines and journals, including Guideposts and Adoption Today; her journey was captured in India’s Reader’s Digest and Australia’s Marie Claire. In 2012, Donnie’s story was featured in “Wonder Dog” for the New York Times Magazine.
Donnie and her husband, Harvey, the founding rabbi of a reform synagogue, live north of Atlanta with their son, Iyal, and daughter, Morasha.