VINALHAVEN — It was a wish granted. And that doesn’t happen every day.

“It’s pretty rare that what you wish for is what you get,” said Joanna Reidy, mother to 10-year-old Tess Reidy. In February, the non-profit Make-A-Wish Maine granted Tess her wish by sending Oreo, a service dog, to live with the Reidy family in their island home.

Tess suffers from a rare genetic disorder that renders her unable to walk, talk or eat solid food, among other things. Perhaps most frightening, Tess also suffers from multiple seizures of varying degrees every day. Oreo is trained to “alert” to Tess’s seizures, often before they happen. She will provide Tess’s family and care givers with valuable time when treating her seizures, as well as peace of mind.

Tess was accepted into the Make-A-Wish program in August 2011. Because this was such an unusual wish, it took two and a half years to make her dream a reality.

“We let Tess choose her wish as much as she could,” her mother said. This meant printing pictures of two possible wishes, a dog or a trip to see SpongeBob SquarePants, who was Tess’s favorite TV character at the time, and showing them to Tess. She was then asked which she preferred, and whichever she looked at was her choice. Tess was asked the same question repeatedly, with the pictures in different places.

“No matter where we put the picture, she chose the dog,” Joanna said. “We assumed she knew what we were talking about and went with her wish.”

Once Make-A-Wish gave the go-ahead, the Reidy family still had to be approved by the service dog training facility, 4Paws for Ability, in Xenia, Ohio. According to Joanna, 4Paws is “the only place in the country that would give a dog to a child with the level of disabilities Tess has.” After a rigorous application process, the Reidys were accepted.

In January, Joanna, her husband Charlie and Tess joined other families getting service dogs for a two-week training class in Ohio where they learned basic obedience commands and how to continue Oreo’s training for seizure work.

“On the first day Oreo alerted to a seizure within the first hour,” said Joanna. “We were just floored.”

Training with other families was especially heartening for the Reidys.

“You are in a place of no judgment,” Joanna said of the training, “and everyone is rooting for you and your child and the dog to do the job that you used to have to do alone.”

Now that the Reidy family is home, Oreo is fitting right in.

“We think Tess understands Oreo is hers. She is more interested in Oreo, more excited to see her. She is giggling a lot more since we have Oreo. Both Charlie and I remarked on how good it was to hear her,” Joanna said.

Besides the obvious benefits of having a seizure alert dog, “the second point of the wish was that Tess would get a buddy, because she doesn’t have a buddy like most 10-year-old girls have,” said Joanna. “And we think that’s happening.”

A girl and her dog”¦ it’s a beautiful thing.