Margie and Malachi Sims and PAWS With A Cause Assistance Dog, Newman, at the Shiawassee County Fair. Team Sims won a Special Kids & Special Dogs trophy in the dog barn at the fair this year. This is their first year participating in 4-H.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor


Malachi Sims is an 11-year-old boy who recently joined the Doggie Diggers 4-H Club, but what makes Malachi’s story even more special is that he brought his own team to the group. Malachi is autistic. Over the past few months, Malachi has been joined with his mother, Margie, and his dog, Newman, in a collaborative effort to help the boy adjust to the bigger world he lives in. It has become a winning situation for everyone involved. Malachi has made enormous strides in handling noisy, chaotic environments. Margie has found an organization in the Shiawassee County 4-H Dog Barn that has completely welcomed her and her son. Even Newman, a 5-year-old yellow Lab, has gained as an Assistance Dog through the bond he shares with the boy.

Malachi was born in 2005. However, autism did not appear until he was between 18-months and 2-years old. Until that time, he was developing in a seemingly normal fashion. Afterwards, the Sims family had their entire world change.

Life can be complicated for the young boy. He has several food allergies, and has trouble with his vision, focusing, and motor-skills. Yet, Malachi also has many positive things going for him. He has a wonderful smile, an infectious laugh, and a very supportive family.

“Everyone wants to include him in as much as possible,” Margie shared. The Sims team has been showing in the dog barn at the Shiawassee County Fair during fair week. “This has restored my belief in humanity.”

The tight-knit 4-H canine community has strongly embraced the Sims team. The experience has been overwhelmingly positive for everyone.

Newman officially became a member of the Sims team in 2013 through the PAWS With A Cause organization. PAWS With A Cause has the mission to “enhance the independence and quality of life for people with disabilities nationally through custom-trained Assistance Dogs.” In 2016 alone, the organization served 432 Client Dog teams in 35 states. In Newman’s case, he was trained to act as a facilitator to minimize triggers and help improve social interaction for Malachi.

An anonymous individual had stepped forward and donated the necessary funding for Newman to become Malachi’s Assistance Dog. The person had donated in honor of a family member.

For more information on PAWS With A Cause or to become a volunteer or donor, visit or call (800) 253-7297.


Team Sims Shows at the Shiawassee County Fair was last modified: August 14th, 2017 by Karen Elford