Dogs Making a Difference: Loki and Will

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories, Supporters

Freshpet is a proud partner of 4 Paws For Ability, a very special organization that custom-trains assistance dogs for children facing a variety of challenges.

Freshpet is sending crates of fresh dog food to 4 Paws that they’re using to feed moms, puppies, and as high value training treats. And they’ve allowed us to share the stories of a few families who have received one of these amazing dogs.Today we’re featuring Will and autism assistance dog Loki, a black lab retriever. They were matched together in March 2016, and their mom Jenny tells us about how close they’ve become:

“What has surprised me the most is the incredible bond that Will and Loki have. When we entered into this service dog journey we were told that the child and dog may or may not bond, and that’s OK. A service dog will still work for a child even if a bond is not established. Well, Will and Loki have a bond like no other. They are the best of friends. Will does not engage in many interactive activities with his peers, but he plays fetch with Loki any time he finds a tennis ball. So not only does Loki provide safety and independence for Will, he’s his best friend.

Loki uses his training to make a difference for Will every day. Tethering [wearing a belt or harness with a tether that clips to their service dog’s vest] has been a godsend. It provides Will with the ability to walk independently in public without wandering away or bolting in a different direction. We don’t have to keep our hands on Will to keep him from running away.”

Dogs Making a Difference: Curtiss and Bryson

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

Curtiss is of the aeroplane litter. The Curtiss airplane looks fierce. It is painted to look like a shark, strong and brave. The Curtiss plane was a fighter and protected people. Much like our Curtiss.

Curtiss joined our family May 2017 and life has been incredible since. I had no idea going into this how drastically our lives would change. But here we are…living with a sense of peace, hope, and security that I had not known for the last 5 years of Bryson’s little life and journey with autism.

Bryson has a tendency to run away. Eloping is what they call it. He has gone missing a few times and each time is more scary than the last. Since bringing Curtiss home, he has already saved Bryson’s life, literally. It was a hot summer day. Bryson’s dad, Patrick, and I were working outside. He thought I had Bryson. I thought he had Bryson. When we met up and realized he was nowhere to be found, I did what I normally do. FREAK OUT! I started to head up the street searching everywhere. But Patrick, he immediately went inside, hooked up Curtiss to his leash and said those magical words, “Curtiss, go find your boy” and he did, right away! Curtiss took off and led Patrick right to where Bryson was. Bryson had climbed into the car and was sitting behind the steering wheel. We didn’t think to check there first because it was hot and surely, he wouldn’t lock himself in a hot car. But he did and by the time we got to him he was red faced, sweating, and a little lethargic. Minutes later and it could have been tragic.

Autism could have literally killed our boy, but we have Curtiss and as long as we have him, I honestly believe Curtiss will keep rescuing him. That’s who Curtiss is. He is a rescuer, a protector, and our little guys very best friend.
They sleep together. They attend school together. They are tethered anytime we are in public and at school. They play together. They are inseparable. Wherever Bryson goes, Curtiss goes. He is Bryson’s forever companion and best friend.

4 Paws has changed our lives and Curtiss has been the best addition to our family. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect fit.

Dogs Making a Difference: Tyler and Scooby

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

Message from Linda: While Scooby may love cats more than the cats would prefer, Autism Assistance Dog, Scooby is the friend Tyler has waited so long to find. Scooby knows nothing of the word “different”; in Scooby’s eyes Tyler is the perfect friend just the way he is.

Tyler loves Scooby like he has never been able to love a person. He kisses him all the time. He is so proud too. He announces everywhere we go, “This is Scooby, my service dog. Scooby, meet might sound strange, but Scooby brought Tyler over the “kissing” hurdle. Tyler could not stand to kiss before Scooby. He would allow me to kiss his cheek or forehead, but would never kiss back or let you kiss his lips. He kisses me now and even kissed me on the lips once. He said, “I’m kinda gettin’ used to that. Scooby kisses me too.”

What a gift!!!! Thank you for Scooby and all he has brought to our family. We wouldn’t be complete without him. Love, Linda and Tyler

Dogs Making a Difference: Kai and David

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

David, who received the first 4 Paws Autism Assistance Dog placed in Canada, meets his k9 partner, Kai for the first time.

Kai seems to understand that David needs some space to get used to having her with him.

How dogs know what they do is a mystery we will never find the answer to but when it comes to children with Autism, this mystery of how the dogs know just what their young partners need,is nothing less than magical.

Dogs Making a Difference: Harry and Noah

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

Autism Assistance Dog in School:  A Letter From Cathy Foust

Noah has autism and is in second grade in a large public school. Our school staff was supportive during our fundraising, but administration was very reluctant to have a dog in school. We presented to the school board and met with the superintendent and they finally agreed upon a trial with data.

We had our 30 day review meeting for Harry yesterday and it went extremely well. In August, Noah was averaging escaping from staff 15-20 times per day and since we started to school with Harry in October, the number has dropped to zero – except for the day he learned to take his harness off! In August Noah was also averaging over 100 aggressive acts (pinching, hitting or kicking) per day towards staff and the number is now 10-20.

Harry was the only intervention tried during this period – so there was no arguing that he was the reason for the drastic turnaround. The IEP team kept saying they couldn’t believe how smooth of a transition Harry made into the school day and they are all amazed at how well trained and gentle he is. After the first few weeks the 900+ kids acted like Harry was just another student. The only issue we’ve had is with PE because Harry gets pretty excited when the balls start flying – but we’re working on that.

Our main goal in getting Harry was Noah’s safety and a decrease in behaviors. Everyone during the meeting commented on how much calmer Noah was during the school day when he was with Harry. He has also started to interact more with his peers, initiates and returns greetings spontaneously and is just more willing to participate. Also, since Harry started going to school with Noah he has received his first phone call (not sure what was said??) birthday party invites and lots of drawings and notes sent home from his classmates. This was not something we expected, but it’s definitely icing on the cake.

We have spoken with administration about being a contact point for other districts that have questions about4 Paws dogs at school – we’re hoping they agree. Harry has definitely made a huge difference for Noah in a few short weeks. The school has a Hero Award board for staff members and Harry received the sweetest award for his hard work. Everyone that works with Noah just loves Harry and the peace of mind he brings when he’s tethered to Noah. They are finally able to focus more on academics and less on behaviors.

If you have any questions about Harry and school I’d be happy to let you know what we’ve done so far. We have tried many interventions, therapies, drugs, etc. since we started down this autism road, but Harry has definitely been the best medicine for Noah and our family.

Cathy Foust, St. Peters MO

Dogs Making a Difference: Shadow

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

May 23, 2008. From a happy parent. I had to share what is happening to us. To bring the rest of you up to speed, we have an eight-year-old high functioning son. We got our dog last March. Our son had NEVER NEVER slept a night in his bed. His “security item” or “transitional object” has always been Dad or me. So success number one: for the last two months he has been sleeping in his own bed with Popeye/Shadow. YEAH!!! no crying, no muss, no fuss.