The world is more aware and prepared.

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

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

Chris and Mercy9.  The world is more aware and prepared.

The ADA has truly facilitated national discussion on a previously quiet topic.  The accommodations and protections haven’t just increased awareness; they have helped redefine how society views disabilities.  The World Health Organization defines disability as a contextual variable, dynamic over time, and in relation to circumstance.  Which means people can be more or less disabled based on the context of the environment around them.

Chris has excelled in an environment where he is viewed as a person first.  With the ADA’s protection his service dog, Mercy, goes wherever she is needed.  She’s even accompanied him to see the White House and visit the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Mercy helps him tremendously as new places, medical procedures, large groups, or noisy places can cause lots of sensory overload.

“Mercy helps him feel calm and has opened up his world. Also, because of the ADA more accommodations are available and an awareness for their need for has increased”.

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

Reasonable accommodations bring me to the playing field, even when the game is still hard.

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

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

Hannah & Tandy5.  Reasonable accommodations bring me to the playing field, even when the game is still hard.

This is Hannah and her service dog, Tandy.  Like many of our clients, Hannah has an invisible disability.  An invisible or hidden disability is one that isn’t necessarily obvious from looking at or even speaking with a person, but impairs their capabilities.  Invisible disabilities can include chronic illnesses, diabetes, autism, and PTSD. The ADA has helped Hannah get the accommodations that she needs in the classroom and in public.  She still has to work hard to achieve, but she has the resources she needs to excel.

“[The ADA] ensures I’m on an equal playing field with everyone else. I would not have the help I’m getting today without the ADA and Tandy”.

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I have the right to attend a school with my peers.

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

Jake & Dot3.  I have the right to attend a school with my peers.

This is Jake and his service dog Dot. They became best friends in December 2014. Dot is a member of the 4 Paws for Ability breeder program and also a certified Service Dog. She serves two purposes, the first is to be Jake’s way into the world, and the second is to provide future service dogs for 4 Paws For Ability. She recently had her first litter of 8 puppies, The Thor Litter, and they are 9 weeks old.

When Jake first got Dot the school Jake was attending would not allow the service dog.  While in direct conflict with the law, Jake’s family decided they didn’t want a school to just follow the law.  They wanted a school to also openly accept Jake and Dot, so they changed schools. Jake and Dot are a great pair and do very well at the new school, where they are very well loved.  Jake and Dot are also heading out to Boy Scout camp, and aided by his positive school experiences with his peers, he is sure to have a great time exploring a new world and attempting new challenges.  Finally, Jake gets to experience the joys of family events with assistance from Dot – events like his sister Katie’s birthday, which happens to be today.  Happy Birthday Katie!

“The ADA law and Dot have opened so many doors for Jake.  Without the ADA law, Jake and Dot could not attend school or camp together. With Dot, Jake can experience so many new things”!

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

When all else fails, the law is on my side.

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

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

Shyanna & Spring2.  When all else fails, the law is on my side.

This is Shyanna and her service dog, Spring, at the zoo! Her brother also needs a service dog and is still diligently working to fundraiser for that life-changing medical resource. Spring has been so helpful to Shyanna, that her mom wasn’t willing to compromise when their school fought against welcoming the working pair…they were “kicked out”, and lawyers wound up working the details.  In the meantime, Spring helped Shyanna in ways that her mom never thought could happen.  Shyanna and Spring are now thriving at their school, Athens City, and everyone is falling in love with the both of them.

“Even with the law on my side it’s not always easy but in the end the ADA helps people understand that my children have rights too”. 

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

All service dogs are covered – not just guide dogs!

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

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

1. All service dogs are covered – not just guide dogs!

Caden & ElfThis is Caden and his service dog Elf. Elf is an autism assistance service dog. The ADA provides public access rights for all types of task trained service dogs. While guide dogs, sometimes called seeing-eye dogs, have the most public exposure, service dogs serve a wide breadth of accessibility needs. All of 4 Paws for Ability’s service dogs have public access rights: these include seizure assistance, hearing assistance, autism assistance, FASD assistance, mobility assistance, facilitated guide, diabetic alert, and PTSD alert dogs.

“Without the law, Caden would have to endure a lot of fear and anxiety without his best friend by his side. The ADA allows Caden the opportunity to just be a kid and enjoy the world around him”.

Celebrate ADA! Donate today, #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

An autistic boy’s journey to find his best friend

By | Autism Assistance, Miscellaneous, Service Dog Stories

MT. ORAB, Ohio — “Good boy! Good boy!” These are the two words that are overheard throughout 4 Paws for Ability training center. And it’s exactly what Samuel DeWitt will be hearing when he comes to class on Tuesday, Oct. 23 to finally meet his service dog, a Golden Retriever named Lugnut.

After tears of frustration turned into tears of joy, Samuel—who was scammed by an Illinois woman claiming to run a service dog agency—will soon be able to rely on his new best friend for life.

Samuel, who has autism, does not understand dangers. He has no fear of water or cars or even strangers. Lugnut will keep Samuel from wandering off, and will basically keep him safe as well as at ease.

The idea of having such a dog was almost crushed when they raised money for several months, but heard nothing back from the organization in Illinois that they were sending money to. That’s when 4 Paws stepped up.

Earlier this year 4 Paws for Ability decided that they had to do something for this family who was right in their own backyard, said Executive Director and Founder Karen Shirk.

“We felt that this family had been through enough,” said Shirk about donating a $22,000 service dog to the family for Samuel. And when Wrestle Against Autism heard what 4 Paws was doing for the DeWitts, they donated a large portion of the money needed to fund Samuel’s dog.

“It’s going to give Samuel opportunities to really have normal functioning and give him a better daily life,” said David DeWitt. ”It was just such an amazing act of kindness.”

It’s not something Samuel understands completely, just yet.

“We had sat down and actually had talked with him a little bit that Samuel, you are gonna get a dog. And we weren’t quite sure it really even sunk in at first, but about three or four minutes later, Samuel was just running around the house going ‘Oh man! Oh man! Oh man!” said Elizabeth DeWitt of her son’s reaction. 

Visit their Facebook page ‘Autism’s Ruff’ and follow their journey for a service dog.

-Jessica Noll


Watch his journey as documented by Jessica Noll (who was a multimedia journalist at that time for WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.)

Samuel Series: A boy’s journey to his best friend for life

August 2012 | A Class Full of Superheroes!

By | Autism Assistance, Hearing Assistance, Misc, Miscellaneous, Multipurpose Assistance, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Stories

XENIA, Ohio – A classroom full of superheroes took over 4 Paws over the last 11 days—both dogs and children donned capes and “Super” emblems on their chests. While each child’s Kryptonite varies, the pair of child and canine grew into a team. And together, as 4 Paws graduates, they are ready to fight seizures, hearing loss, autism and all that ails them, one super power at a time.

Bianca is a smiler. She loves to smile. So it was no surprise that when York, a yellow Labrador Retriever, entered the classroom, her face lit up. She and her little brother found a new playmate and friend for life, as they laughed and fed York treat after treat.

“York is a blessing to us, cannot be more thankful,” said her mom, Estella.

Tyler wasn’t sure how to take Niella, a white Labradoodle. With a baggie full of treats in his dad’s hand, one morsel at a time, he tossed them into the air. As each one piece of kibble landed, Niella gobbled them up quickly, making Tyler giggle every time.

“I’m sorry, but [Niella is] absolutely the best dog ever,” said Tyler’s mom at graduation.

 It was love at first sight for Riley and Nascar, a Golden Retriever. Hugs were plentiful, as Riley buried his face in Nascar’s golden coat, smiling for photos as he peeked up over her back. He nuzzled his new furry pal as if he had known the dog for years. His mom was thrilled on graduation day.

 “[Nascar is] perfect fit for our son. They are going to be best friends forever,” said Maggie.

Ethan didn’t know quite what to make of Dazzler, a chocolate Labrador Retriever. In fact, his mom Heather said that he was petrified of his new service dog for days after jumping into training. But after a rocky road of 11 days in class, the two are peas in a pod… sleeping together and walking together tethered. Local 12 news out of Cincinnati came and did a TV feature on Ethan and Dazzler and they saw first-hand tethering and the tracking training, which will come in so handy for parents like Heather and Richard Innis.

“We’re just blown away at how prepared these dogs are to get out there and do their jobs,” said Heather.

Read Ethan and Dazzler’s story, “Wonder Boy Gets Super Dog” on our blog at,

Wagging his tale, Jenji frolicked over to where Dawson was sitting with his mom and dad. Not sure what to think, Dawson curled up in his mom’s lap a little tighter, while dad made sure that Jenji, a black Labradoodle, was loved on. Eventually Dawson sneaked in a few kisses and treats—with a smile from ear to ear; giggling with every lick Jenji gave while gently taking a treat from the young boy’s hand.

Thor anxiously waited, sitting on his mom, Erin’s lap. As

Detour, a black Labrador Retriever, finally made his way to boy, Thor became shy, but inquisitive. There was an immediate bond between the two. After an initial, quick pat on the head, Thor moved from the safety of his mom’s lap to the floor, where he and Detour sat face to face, creating a bond that would last forever.

 “[We were] expecting an exceptional dog, but we’re amazed,” said Erin.

Ruby had a fondness for Nascar sitting next to her family, but at first was not sharing her parents’ enthusiasm about Abba Zabba, a yellow Labrador Retriever. The curly, blond-haired girl was soon won over too.

For her mom, Melissa, the emotion that she said she has had in abundance over the last year with the fundraising and 4 Paws, has been “gratitude.” 

“We’re totally in love with Abba,” she said with tears in her eyes at graduation.

Michael’s brother and sister loved on DaVinci, however, Michael sat on mom’s lap and was a bit on the skeptical side. By the end of class, at graduation, Michael had one arm around DaVinci, a yellow Labrador Retriever, and smiled while his family took loads of photos, proud of him and their newest family member.

Jessica embraced Jello, a yellow Labrador Retriever, right off the bat with plenty of hugs and kisses when they met. She leaned into his soft fur and whispered in Jello’s ear, presumably telling him her secrets. Jello, too, was in love—content with the attention from his new favorite girl.s brother and sister loved on DaVinci, however, Michael sat on mom’s lap and was a bit on the skeptical side. By the end of class, at graduation, Michael had one arm around DaVinci, a yellow Labrador Retriever, and smiled while his family took loads of photos, proud of him and their newest family member.

As families chatted while munching on breakfast and kids mingled over toys on the first day of class, Ellie spent the better part of the morning on the first day kneeled down, waiting, leaning up against Déjà Vu’s crate. She had one arm up, over her head clinched on the top of the crate, while her other hand’s tiny fingers were stroking the metal bars to Déjà’s crate. She couldn’t wait to have her dog in her arms. The time came and they met. Her big eyes grew even larger as she gave treats and loved on her new BFF, Déjà, who she had become attached, to long before they were introduced. By the end of their meeting, Ellie was laying down on a mat on the floor, staring into the black Labrador Retriever’s eyes.

“Perfect match for her. She loves animals,” said her mom Jen.

CeCe and Michael came to 4 Paws to share the love of Dagwood, a black Labrador Retriever. And they did. When CeCe entered the classroom to sign in the first day, wide-eyed, she eagerly said, “We’re getting a dog!” The three met, along with their mom and dad, and it was an instant family from the start. Michael, sitting on dad’s lap, leaned his hand down to pat Dagwood’s head, laughing. CeCe knelt on the ground, feeding their new service dog treats, with a smile that never left her face.

“It’s really a class-act organization. [We] look forward to taking him home,” said mom, Suzie.

Congratulations to the graduates from the Class of August 2012!

-Jessica Noll

Saluting the Class of July 2012!

By | Autism Assistance, Hearing Assistance, Misc, Mobility Assistance, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Stories

Devyn and Kite

XENIA, Ohio – They came. They learned. They bonded. It was 11 days, 9 dogs and 18 smiles… dogs and children included of course. That’s what transpired over the span of two weeks at 4 Paws for Ability during July 2012’s training class.

They came from all over the world, including a family who traveled from Japan to meet their daughter’s new best friend.

Our first Asian-bound pup will be headed to Japan with his new family, the Carranos. Originally from Omaha, Neb., Moira Carrano, 11, found her companion in Phantom, a Golden Retriever. Energetic and talkative, she was more than excited to meet her friend and on graduation day, it was evident that Phantom matched personalities quite well with the bouncy redhead, giving Moira a run for her money; pulling her across the floor during photographs.

“We were hoping for a friend and we got Phantom,” said David Carrano, Moira’s dad.

Words were unspoken for Jeb Burrow of Blue Springs, Mo. The 7-year-old had a twinkle in his eye on graduation day, as he reached down from his electronic wheelchair to pet his beloved best friend, a Golden Retriever named Cloud. He looked up at his new little boy, putting his mouth to Jeb’s hand, bowed his head in an effort to allow the petting to commence. A smile seemed to shine through his yellow fur. Their bond was silent and beautiful, though not an unusual exchange at any given day at 4 Paws.

Alex Raker, 11, of Winchester, Va., was not a fan of all the photos that were taken of him and his new little buddy, Dewdrop. He turned his head as the paparazzi took aim and shot photo after photo. But as he tolerated the bright flash and the attention that he received, his parents wheeled him to sit in front of the ‘4 Paws Graduates’ banner, and he was at ease with his small service dog, a Papillon, Dewdrop resting upon his lap. His hands were draped over the pooch, who was right at home on his new boy’s legs.

It was only a matter of time before one determined, talented, little boy was introduced to his BFF. An best-selling author was in our midst during the July class. Evan Moss, 8, of Alexandria, Va., was the proud new friend to Mindy, a Golden Doodle. Dressed in a sweater, Mindy had been freshly groomed and trimmed very close for their initial meeting on Day 1. To avoid getting too cold, she was fashionable to say the least. The curly eared pup and the precocious young boy were soon two peas in a pod… it was the making of this boy’s best friend.

“It’s amazing to see the process,” said Lisa Moss, Evan’s mom. “Where we started and where we are now. [We’re] very, very, very grateful.”

(Read “Evan Makes Best Friend for Life” feature story in our next newsletter 4PawPrints; Aug/Sept issue.)

When Leah Anderson, 5, of Miamisburg, Ohio, met Yodel, she instantly went to work. Leah was experiencing pain on the first day of class and cried out. As Leah’s family moved her from her wheelchair to a blanket on the floor, Yodel tried calming the young tearful girl, lying next to her. That’s when Stacey Anderson knew this dog was going to furrever change their lives.

Graduation was an emotional day for some, who found their own special bond with their child’s new four-legged pal.  Leah Anderson’s mom Stacey became Yodel’s handler, training her at the mall and in class. Growing close, bonding quickly.

“Yodel already is officially part of the family,” said Stacey Anderson, Leah’s mom. “She’s already been good for all of us,” she continued, as she teared up, bursting with joy and gratitude.

Everyone loved Minnie Pearl. With a name like that… who wouldn’t? But even more than cute and tiny, the small Papillon was ready to go to work; ready to please. On the first day of class, she met her girl, 21-year-old, college student, Jenny Gamersfeld of Hudson, Ohio. She is hearing impaired and Minnie Pearl’s tiny, furry ears, would be her ears. From the moment they met, it was love at first sight, sharing many tiny butterfly kisses and licks that can only come from your dog and companion for life.

Devyn Emmons, of Norwalk , Ohio, anxiously awaited the moment that he received his new friend. Standing, watching everyone else receive their dogs, he smiled looking on. The moment finally arrived and Kite made his way to the little boy, who could not bend his elbows. That didn’t stop him from leaning down and wrapping his arms around Kite giving him the biggest hug a little boy could, when they were introduced for the first time.

The 7-year-old did not shy away from the bright lights and camera lens pointed in his and Kite’s direction. In fact, Devyn made sure that he was always ready for his close-up. He and his Golden Retriever both seemed to enjoy the limelight, while at the mall training, in class, and on graduation day. They worked hard together and loved each other just as passionately. Every chance he got, Devyn embraced his big, furry, blonde friend, with a smile so big across his face, that there was no wiping it off.

At first Henna Soto, 13, of Woodbridge, Va., shied away from Snoball, a beautiful, upbeat, albeit, drooling Golden Retriever. Henna did not care for the typical slime associated with a dog, which had accumulated and was oozing from Snoball’s mouth. With every kiss, she made a face and yelled, “Eww! Slobber!” But those drool-filled kisses were something she learned to love about her pooch. On graduation day, it was all hugs, smiles and… yes, kisses. Lots and lots of kisses.

Cody Ross, 17, of Round Rock, Texas, sat quietly on the couch in the training room at 4 Paws. It was the first day and no dogs were introduced to their children yet. His head hung low, never looking up to show his eyes to anyone. Moments later, Loyal, his Golden Retriever, was led from the back, to his lap. With a still-closed, untouched bag full of treats in his lap, Cody, looked at the dog. His dad opened the bag of treats. Once the sound of the plastic baggie tore open, Loyal jumped to his new boy’s lap and began vigorously licking Cody.  He was unrelenting. And Cody was uncontrollably laughing. His laughter echoed throughout 4 Paws and was the sound most often heard throughout for the next 11 days to come.

-Jessica Noll

Baum Chevrolet Buick donates Buick to help in Tyler Auten’s fundraising

By | Autism Assistance, Fundraising, Service Dog Stories
Baum Chevrolet Buick, Clinton IL donates Buick to fundraising for Tyler Auten, who needs an autism service dog from 4 Paws for Ability

Baum Chevrolet Buick, Clinton IL donates Buick to fundraising for Tyler Auten, who needs an autism service dog from 4 Paws for Ability

Baum Chevrolet Buick has found a unique purpose for one of its pre-owned vehicles: Autism awareness. The dealership recently donated a 2000 Buick Regal to the family of Tyler Auten, a five-year-old Autistic boy from Bloomington, who is trying to raise $13,000 to purchase a special service dog. 

The Regal will be turned into a giant chalkboard for kids and adults to draw or write inspirational messages in support of Tyler. Family friend and parent of an Autistic child, Ryan Abbott, plans to feature the Buick at several car shows in Bloomington throughout the summer in hopes of generating additional donations.

For more information about Tyler, check out his Facebook page @

Juke calms Logan during severe meltdown

By | Autism Assistance, Service Dog Stories

March 12, 2012. Tonight I decided to see if Juke would do what he was trained to do. Logan was having a major meltdown and I made Logan move to his room for fear that he would hurt me during a tantrum and told Juke to “go to your boy.”

Once in the room, I said the command “Lap” and pointed at Logan who was screaming and head-banging. Juke jumped on the bed, backed up and sat on him, looking a little scared…It was a total transformation! Logan quit screaming and put his hand on Juke’s back.

I put my hand over his and helped him pet him. He cried and we petted Juke for about 10 minutes until Logan was happy.

Thank God for a good working service dog. I am forever grateful…from Logan’s mother, Donna Sauraq Erickson, Unalakleet, Alaska.