Dogs Making a Difference – Loki and Will

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

From Will’s teacher:

Happy Friday!!! I thought I would update how things are going at school. A huge focus for Will and Loki is walking without [Will] dropping [to the floor]. Will has greatly increased his independence during transitions throughout the school while tethered to Loki!! It really is amazing!

During PE the students typically walk around the perimeter of the gym to warm up, and Will would drop a majority of the time, while being tethered to Loki he will walk the entire time. Will is not always thrilled because he is doing a lot more physical activity. His frustration continues to decrease because he knows that it is the continued expectation! We are now having Loki tethered to Will during transitions between our center rotations within the classroom to increase his independence even more. This is something we just recently started for both boys and we can’t wait to see the progress they will make together!!

Dogs Making a Difference – Demo and Dom

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories
As many know, we go to Disney all the time. Before Demo, Dom was always in a stroller. Today, we were at the Magic Kingdom for 6 hours. Dom walked, no stroller. This has NEVER happened. And to be honest, I never thought it would.
It was the perfect day! The kids were well behaved, the weather was awesome (mid 70s) with clouds and a breeze, and I was on my a-game for telling people no they couldn’t pet Demo. Normally, if we can I will allow it. But it was crowded, so today was a no pet day.
We took tons of breaks, tons of water, and had tons of fun! Thank you to Tori Shisler (Demo’s puppy raiser), the trainers, Karen Shirk, 4 Paws and anyone else who had a hand in raising Demo! He was a rockstar, nothing bothered him and he has already changed our lives so much! I am one very grateful mom! Now where are the tissues?  This dog makes me cry!
*edit* not only did Dom walk…but he also had ZERO behaviors. ZERO!!!


Dogs Making a Difference – Peach and Gabe

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

So for a long time we waited till Gabriel was older before coming to Great Wolf.  We brought Peach because well, we bring her everywhere now. Murphy’s law followed us here and Gabe eloped in a freaking water park.  My 9 year old was freaking out and the husband was a little bit too. I kept my calm as much as we could while my husband notified the staff to look for him and me and the oldest ran so fast back to the room to grab Peach from her kennel.

We hooked her up and ran back to the last point seen, at first I thought it would be impossible since Peach couldn’t track into the water and also because he had already been all over the park! Well, she literally tracked him from where we last saw him to the hot tub and around the entire lazy river to where he was floating by, happy as a clam.

This is Peach’s second real track, but the first one he didn’t go far nor in such a dangerous place. We found him safe and sound and we did it so fast because of her. She was worth every hard moment of fundraising when we thought we would never raise enough. I am so eternally grateful for her and the way 4 Paws trained her so expertly. Thank you everyone because without Peach right now I would be a blubbering mess but because I knew we had her, I was able to keep calm.

Dogs Making a Difference – Lady and Jonathan

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

Turn on your way back machine and get ready for this one. 4 Paws has been placing service dogs since 1998. But it’s harder to come by our older placements. The oldest class photos you can find on Facebook are 2012 and I gather much of the building up of our Facebook family happened then. We got a WONDERFUL message from a pre-Facebook family from 2005!!!

I wanted to share this with the 4 Paws Family. Sometimes it can be really encouraging to see how things can end when beginning a journey like this. Here’s what I posted today. (<she’s right, we love beautiful retirements as much as we love beautiful beginnings!)

Well….12 years ago a journey began! These two have been side by side ever since! What a blessing Lady has been for Jonathan and really for the whole family! Lady will be 13 years old in July and has served well, however, a newly diagnosed auto-immune condition has impacted her ability to be an actively working Autism Assistance Dog so she has officially retired. She continues to support from home and we are working to keep her feeling as comfortable as we can. Someone left her at the pound in Warren County as a puppy and 4 Paws rescued her and trained her! Our hope on graduation day, the day this picture was taken, was that Lady would be able to support Jonathan into adulthood. She has done a terrific job and we are so grateful for her presence in our lives.

Stefanie Spangler Comperry with Jonathan Comperry.
March 16, 2005
Graduation Day

Dogs Making a Difference – Jewell and Rubix

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

We celebrated Jewell’s birthday last Saturday at the bowling alley with the galaxy lights. She loves bowling and the lights.

Unfortunately, another group of patrons were afraid of dogs and being very vocal about a dog being in the bowling alley. They felt it shouldn’t be there in any way. I offered to spontaneously relocate her birthday party.

Anyway, I caught Rubix actively, working his magic for Jewell. She had a good time and enjoyed the party, even with those who were lacking in knowledge. Rubix was also very entranced with the galaxy lights.

His magic is wonderful with Jewell. He is very protective and responsive to her. He always lets me know within moments of how Jewell’s school day really was. Thanks to Rubix, I have called an additional IEP meeting and notified the district that Jewell won’t return to school until after the meeting and the changes are in place. I have to look at her as a whole person, not just academically as they do.

I am accepted for who I am.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Autism Assistance, Fundraising, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

22 Dalton & Jasper22. I am accepted for who I am.

For 25 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act has served as more than just a law. The requirements set forth within led to inclusion, which is often a step closer to acceptance. Acceptance allows a person to exist just as they are, with no worry for the way people see their medical conditions.

Dalton is a lucky kiddo, and while there are a lot of reasons, the best of which is that he has a loving community that accepts him. At school, church, and camp he is free to just be. This is good for Dalton, and good for his family. Harsh looks and stares seem unavoidable with the unprepared public, but are nowhere to be seen in his community. There is love, and hugs, and great care. This has only increased since Jasper has been by his side. Jasper is the elite partner and friend. He doesn’t know how to judge and his love is unconditional. Together they are strong and fearless, and thankfully, welcomed by their loved ones.

“So many things have changed since Jasper came into our lives. The biggest change is that Dalton is finally willing to go out in public again. He used to shake in fear, but he is now asking us to take him out. Dalton asks for Jasper and knows that they are best friends”.

Celebrate ADA! Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

My quality of life has improved.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Autism Assistance, Fundraising, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

21 Andrew & Nora21. My quality of life has improved.

The ADA guarantees many rights and services for people with disabilities that no law did in the past. Housing and air travel were protected under other previous laws, but the ADA was the first comprehensive law for disability rights, covering employment, telecommunication, and public accommodation – which includes public access coverage for task trained service dogs. These promised rights, aren’t just rights at all. They have increased the quality of life for individuals and families for 25 years.

Meet Andrew & Nora. Without Nora, Andrew would have a particularly hard time navigating the world. As his mom says, “Autism is a marathon, not a sprint”, and together they are covering miles. The ADA helps them get those resources needed to safely access public accommodations and their school, together. Nora loves Andrew unconditionally, something that is sometimes hard for the unaware and unprepared public to do. Nora helps Andrew connect with his teachers and peers in their school environment, and Andrew has made strides in his schoolwork too. Quality of life is hard to measure, but it’s certainly obvious when things are better.

“My husband is a coach at a very large high school in Texas (think Friday night lights!) and I cannot manage games alone with the threat that Andrew will bolt…so we tether. When Andrew has a meltdown, it isn’t a temper tantrum. He’s on sensory overload. His anxiety is overwhelming. The lights are just so bright. Some of them even make noise only he can detect. The music is too loud. You put on too much of your terrible perfume…” and Nora helps with that, she make his life better.

Celebrate ADA! Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I am my own legal advocate.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Autism Assistance, Fundraising, Multipurpose Assistance, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

19 Addie & Data19.  I am my own legal advocate.

When Congress prepared and finalized the ADA, they had no intent to diminish or invalidate any rights granted by other federal, state, or local laws and specifically wrote this into the regulation.  This means state laws can offer greater access than the federal law or work to make federal law explicitly clear within the setting of state legal proceedings.

This encourages all people to become their own legal advocates, working towards the best possible set of local, state, and federal laws for public access.  In New Jersey, Addie & Data, along with their super supportive mom and sister, worked swift and quick to make sure the pair were welcomed and loved in their school.  While doing this they found that NJ has specific laws allowing service dogs in school buildings and on school grounds, but nothing that clearly stated service dogs must also be permitted on school buses.  Working together with their Assemblyman, the Gill family watched Governor Chris Christie sign “Addie’s Law” this spring, making clear the requirement for accepting service dogs on school buses and reiterating other aspects of the ADA.

“We are so proud of Addie’s Law.  We hope to continue being legal advocates, especially where handlers for service dogs in schools are concerned.  Because Addie’s Law was a success, children in NJ who were having issues with school transportation won’t anymore”.

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

My disability can’t always been seen, but I still have access to help.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Autism Assistance, Fundraising, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

12 Jake & Gust12. My disability can’t always been seen, but I still have access to help.

This is Jake and his service dog Gust. Jake has classic autism and is a wanderer.  Autism, along with other diagnoses like seizure disorders and diabetes, can sometimes be invisible to outside observers. Under the Americans with Disabilities act Jake’s autism service dog is allowed to accompany him to many places that Jake originally couldn’t go or had extreme trouble going to.

Jake seems at first glance to be normal, but may be perceived as a bad child who doesn’t listen. He is an active child and Gust has allowed him to be able to be active, but safe.  As an example, Jake and Gust can visit his doctor’s office together. While tethered to Gust, Jake no longer runs in front of traffic, he no longer has constant meltdowns while in waiting rooms, and he relies on his service dog to let him know exactly what the next step will be, without fear that he will become overwhelmed or over stimulated. Jake now patiently waits for his service dog to lead the way.

“As a parent of a special needs child the relief is indescribable. People now see Jake and Gust together and without us having to ask for acceptance or accommodations the public knows that because Jake has his service dog, to give Jake the room he needs to navigate places so he won’t constantly bump into people. Gust has been an amazing help to our family and most importantly to Jake”.

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA