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Life with an Autism Service Dog, Part III
Jingle knows her girl.
Jingle hangs with Riley at night in the hotel during training week.

[Below are excerpts from Michelle O’Neil's blog about her daughter Riley’s autism service dog, which she got earlier this month. In these entries, O’Neil writes about the second half of training at 4 Paws for Ability with Jingle.]

Day 5, Behavior Disruption
Today at training Riley came running in from the kid’s area, crying. She stomped up and down a couple of times and shrieked, “I was trying to tear a picture out of a coloring book, and it ripped, and I crumpled it up and now all my friends are MAD AT ME!!!! WAHHHH!!!!!”

“Riley, why didn’t you ask for help?” I asked.  

That did it.

“I’m not a baaaaaaby!” she wailed.    

I sat her on the mat in front of me and immediately gave Jingle the “lap” command. Jingle sprung to action, she started down by Riley’s knees, and I gave her treats as she inched her way up to Riley’s lap. After the treats, she just stayed there, her body providing deep pressure. I talked to Jingle in a soothing tone, telling her what a good girl she was. Riley started to pet her. We just sat like that, petting Jingle and I could feel Riley’s body start to relax. It didn’t take long, maybe five minutes, definitely less than ten. Then, when she was calm, Riley just got up and marched herself out of the room and back to the play area. We didn’t need to discuss it. She was okay.

This is exactly what we were hoping for.  I sit here trying to think of a pithy ending for this post, but there are no words.

Amen.  

Go to Bed
Last night, we put the kids down in the next room, and my husband, Todd, stood at the door to the bedroom. He looked at Jingle, motioned with his arm toward the door, and said, “Jingle, go to bed!” She hopped up from the floor, ran into the bedroom and jumped up onto Riley’s bed. She stayed with her all night.

She knows who her girl is.

Day 6, Can I pet your dog?
Prior to meeting Jingle, I thought there would be a “mitts off” rule around Riley’s service dog. I imagined myself having to correct adults and children alike, “No, she’s working,” etc.  Some folks receiving service dogs will undoubtedly do just that, but 4 Paws says it is for each client to decide. Chloe, a teen reader of this blog who just got her Asperger’s service dog in August, says it sometimes feels invasive when people approach her dog. I have already been stopped numerous times at the mall by well-meaning people who ask about Jingle. I love introducing her and talking about her but I guess that could get old.

We’re going to have to figure out what feels comfortable for Riley. So far she has been open to it, but we will absolutely let it be her prerogative, and I guess she might feel differently about it on different days. Perhaps we can put an “I’m working” sign on Jingle when Riley doesn’t feel like interacting with people out in public, and take it off when she does.

We made our second trip to the mall today and Jingle was the perfect angel. She held the heel command even when I took her into loud busy stores. She is so smart! She didn’t want me putting the Gentle Leader back on her!  

Riley had another upset today, came in crying from the kid’s area, and we practiced the “over” command again. We got Jingle to put her body over Riley’s lap, and Riley pet her as we praised her. Jingle is definitely motivated by the treats at this point, and not by an altruistic goal to help Riley, but they are bonding more and more with each passing day. Todd is still her sweetheart (full tail wags when he comes in sight), but she’s responding better to me.

Jingle sat on the seat in the car today with her head on Seth’s lap, which thrilled him to no end. We also let him give her the peanut butter filled Kong, but are saving the Pupperonis (doggie crack) for Riley to give. Todd and I are using biscuits for the obedience piece. We are all feeling a little bit more relaxed about the whole thing, and not like we have to get everything perfect, right this minute. It is a process, one that will continue to evolve long after we’ve left 4 Paws and headed back to Cleveland.

Day 7
I know it makes no sense, but when a staff member at 4 Paws showed me a picture she carries of Jingle on her cell phone, and said, “She’s been one of the staff favorites,” I felt such pride! As if I had something to do with her good looks and winning personality.

Jingle is such a good dog! Today we practiced more obedience, and the “touch” command. When a child is upset/crying, the dog is taught to touch them on the leg, “Tap, tap, hello? Look at me kid! Whaddya say we change the subject? Aren’t I cute? Got any treats?”   

We are having to modify the command, because we found out today (thankfully on me) Jingle’s nails are powerful! It’s like she’s digging a rake into your thigh. So, Jingle is only touching Riley’s sneaker for now. We will work on touching the side of her paw, to the side of Riley’s leg, more like a brush with the back of her paw rather than the clawing action she’s got going on now. Jingle is intense. You tell her “touch,” and she wants to do it. With gusto!

“See what a good girl I am? I will really touch like I mean it!”

Ouch!

Yesterday, we watched the dogs practice tethering. It was amazing. The tether strap is attached to the child’s belt, or vest, and the dogs lie on the ground and will not budge. This gives kids with autism so much more freedom out in public. The parents don’t have to constantly hold onto their hands. Riley doesn’t need tethering, but Todd and I both helped by acting as the kids for the training. We tugged and pulled and those sweet dogs, just did what they were trained to do. Even if they were pulled, they stayed in the down position, being dragged slowly across the floor if need be. For those autistic kids who are escape artists, it is like lugging a 50-100 pound weight depending on the dog. It really slows them down. All of the dogs have had basic training in tethering but we were fine-tuning. Tethering is going to open up the world for these families.  

Day 8
Jingle peed in the elevator! She got so scared, it just kinda happened, even though she had gone potty on the way into the mall. I’ve not spent so much time in a mall since I was a teenager with permed hair working at the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City, NY. I was sixteen, blowing all my money on clothes and hair products. Ah, those were the days.

Wait, where was I? Ah yes, Jingle peed.

Even though she is a well-trained dog, there are always going to be situations she is unfamiliar with. She is not a robot. She is a dog, and she has fears and feelings. This is why it is important to get her out as much as possible, in as many situations as we can while we are here, and after we go home. The great thing about Jingle is she’s a quick learner. First time in this particular elevator, she pees. Second time. She was fine. She was scared of a certain set of stairs at the mall too, but we went over them just a couple of times and she did much better.

We’re back at the hotel now, chilling out. The kids are watching Arthur, and Jingle is snoozing on her Mutt Matt. The Mutt Matt is Jingle’s “place.” A “place” is a little rug or matt the dog uses when put in a stay-type mode. It is the spot she will stay on in class if she goes to school. The “place” command is a stay command. They are allowed to move around, stand, stretch, but they have to keep at least two paws on the matt. Jingle will push it, she will be completely off the matt with just her two hind paws on the outside seam, but she’s technically still on her “place,” so we can’t get on her. If Jingle has been put in a “place” command she has to stay for as long as we tell her, until we give her the “free” command.  It can be minutes or hours. All of the dogs understand “place” and it is incredible how they stay on those matts, even if someone deliberately drops a treat a few feet away to test them.

It will never cease to amaze me how you can have 13 dogs in one room, all of them behaving.

Day 9
Today we worked on more obedience and went over many possible scenarios that might play out when we get home, like meeting other dogs. Then, Jeremy the trainer put the fear of God in us about a condition called gastric torsion, which can happen if a dog gulps down its food too fast and then runs around playing wildly after a meal. What happens is the food sits like a huge heavy lump in the dog’s stomach, and then when they get running around, the stomach can flip, twisting the tubes where the esophagus and the small intestine connect to it, creating gas build up and bloat. Jeremy lost a beloved German Shepherd to the condition and his main reason in scaring us half to death was to drive home the point, “Listen to your intuition if you think something is wrong with your dog.” His vet blew off his concerns.

Hmm….a doctor blowing off a “parent’s” concerns. Sounds vaguely familiar.

Listen to your Inner Guidance. Got it. Absolutely. Will do.

Tomorrow is the big test. If Jingle passes she is officially our service dog and we can take her home! She’ll be at the mall with Todd (since between the two of us she loves him best) demonstrating all the commands. She’ll be walking through crowded stores, dealing with strangers, navigating the food court, sitting under a table, heeling, sitting, staying down. She’ll be doing the elevator again (please don’t pee Jingle or you won’t pass)! Todd has to demonstrate he can handle her well.

Yes, she loves Todd, but she knows who her girl is. Any time Riley comes near her the tail goes wild, and today at training Riley crossed the room on her way to the bathroom and Jingle never took her eyes off of her. She watched the bathroom door until Riley came out and watched her again as she walked all the way back to the play area.

So, if all goes well, tomorrow we head home … and Jingle meets the cats. Insert scary music.

Pray for us.

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Michelle O'Neil has contributed to A Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Autism and Special Gifts: Women Writers on the Heartache, the Happiness and the Hope of Raising a Special Needs Child. She has written for Literary Mama, The Imperfect Parent, Age of Autism and she is a contributor to Hopeful Parents. She has a nine-year-old daughter with Asperger's and a seven-year-old son with autoimmune issues. Follow her further adventures at her blog, Full-Soul-Ahead! fullsoulahead.com
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Submitted by Anonymous | November 1 2009 |

As a disabled service dog handler, I do not condone tethering, or the use of "autism service dogs" for children. Many disabled children can benefit from a highly trained emotional support animal, but a $10,000 "anchor" is absolutely ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that the DOJ has stated: "[a]nimals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or promote emotional well-being are not service animals.''

There is absolutely NO excuse for a public access trained service dog defecating in public. None. This is indicative of poor training, poor handling, or a stressed dog that does not belong working in public.

Dogs that are working with children need to be THE most temperamentally sound working dogs of all. Highly obedience trained and phased by nothing. All dogs can and will break training, but more and more we are seeing money-hungry organizations preying off of desperate parents by placing minimally trained "service" dogs with severely disabled children who are unable to handle them independently.

Submitted by Michelle O'Neil | November 4 2009 |

"All dogs can and will break training."

Yep.

It was Jingle's first day with her new family. She IS highly trained, but WE were still being trained.

She is an awesome dog, with an amazing temperment and she's doing exceedingly well with our child.

You might reconsider your stance on tethering if your child had a knack for escaping and repeatedly had been in harm's way as a result. Tethering is an important service to many kids with autism. IF you have not lived it, you don't know. It only takes a second for a child to escape. The service dogs through 4 Paws are part of the three unit team. There is always an adult handler. The tethering allows the child a bit more freedom than always having a human holding their hand, but there is always an adult in the vicinity. Many families are finally able to go out in public after getting a service dog trained in tethering.

We are very happy with our dog from 4 Paws for Ability.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

Obviously, you know nothing at all about Autism Assistance Dog work and very little about dogs. How sad you feel the need to show your ignorance in such a hateful manner. Shame on you.

Submitted by Chelsea Budde | November 4 2009 |

As the mother of two children with autism and the handler of an autism assistance dog with search and rescue skills, I heartily dismiss your "anonymous" opinion and counter it with our experience.

Our 4 Paws For Ability street-certified $20,000 service dog, who was brought home with a mere $9,800 in tax-deductible donations to 4 Paws, a public CHARITY, is without question the most well-behaved dog I have ever encountered. I find it amusing that you believe you've trained dogs so well that you've altered their gastrointestinal function.

We all know that when a handler is first paired with a dog, there is a learning curve: the handler learns about the dog's cues regarding timing of consumption of food and/or water and voiding. This only takes a few weeks to develop, but will not be readily apparent to the new handler during training. Furthermore, when a mammal has to go, they have to go. Accidents do happen. (Our family's dog, whom we've had for 5-1/2 years, has never had an accident in public and only one in private.)

I challenge you, Anonymous, to walk a day in the shoes of a parent of a child with autism. If you're ever in the Milwaukee area, look me up. I'd be glad to learn of your superior skills. And watch you try to keep up with me, my kids, and our service dog. Maybe then you'll see that he is so much more than a "$10,000 anchor." (How appalling that you'd even suggest such a thing!)

Submitted by e4 | November 4 2009 |

Anonymous,

Nobody asked you to condone anything. The organization in question has an extensive record of helping families and kids in very significant ways. The benefits are well documented, and the dogs are certified, with or without your approval.

In your comment you reference things that aren't mentioned in this article, which makes it sound like you have a prepared schick that you trot out to disparage this organization. In other words, it sounds like you have a grudge for some reason.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

If you are disabled service dog handler then you must be a disabled person with a service dog, and you are entitled to your opinion, but whether you "condone" something or not does not speak to whether the service is not encredibly important to the child and family, and certainly it has little to do with what is legally protected under the law. In essence, the service dog performing tethering is like a guide dog for the blind, keeping the child from crossing into oncoming traffic or becoming lost. They cannot "see" or "process" information like traffic or unsafe situations, especially when their senses are overwhelmed by new or very busy/noisy environments. The difference being that the child is impaired in such a way they may not be able or willing to hold onto the dog's harness. These kids have legitimate disability under federal law, and the dogs are task trained to mitigate this disability and benefit the child. Without tethering these children would largely need to be locked away inside their house, because the child will not hold the parent's hand and cannot be kept safe. This is hardly an "anchor" and is not used to stake the child in the front yard. These kids are now getting out more regularly to stores, malls, the zoo, using public transit, traveling, and Disneyland. All things they may not have been able to experience otherwise.

You also took the DOJ statement out of context and did not include the rest of their position: ‘‘[t]he term service animal includes individually trained animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental disabilities.’’ Tethering, tracking, providing focus and grounding as well as behavior mitigation for autistic children falls under this statement.

Perhaps there are money-hungry organizations out there, but if you intended to imply that 4 Paws for Ability was such an organization, I strongly disagree with you. They have radically transformed the lives of many of their disabled clients and families. I know, I am one, and have talked to many more. Our 4 Paws service dog is impecably trained, extremely well behaved, temperamentally sound, and unphased by any environment we have taken her into thus far, including the hospital.

Submitted by Jen | November 4 2009 |

I have seen Jingle in action and she is neither poorly trained, stress or handled wrongly. She is a dog who had an accident and as a dog handler PLEASE do not say you have never had a doggie accident on your hands before. This "anchor" you speak of...would you rather have this little girl get hit by a car because mom/dad lost their grip just one time crossing a parking lot?? Tethering in itself is grounds for a service dog. Autism Service Dogs DEFINATLEY have a place in this world and they are here to stay baby!! WOO HOO!! It is ashamed that you do not see the amazing things these dogs for these kiddos....but it doesn't really matter what you think because we, the parents, know that life is better with our new doggies and we have 4 Paws For Abilty to thank for that!

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

First of all I would like to say that WE are NOT DESPERATE parents!!!!!!! We want what is best for our child just like any other parent in this world!! I am a parent of a child with autism and severe seizure disorder that has a 4 Paws dog. This organization is like family to us!!! They don't just train our dogs and hand them over and say here you are. They spend countless hours making sure our children have the right dog who can perform for them correctly and offer the love and support that they need! We have had our dog now for 2 yrs. and cannot say enough how much our dog has changed not only my son's life, but the whole family!! She has gave my son who functions on a 2yr. old level at the age of 9 so much independence and reduced his seizures GREATLY!!!!!! This is something that medicine nor any other treatment has EVER been able to give to him!!! She goes to a public school with him everyday and has even helped out other children just by being in the room with them. I have seen and been around other agencies service dogs and they cannot hold a candle next to our 4 Paws dog!!!!!!!! If you want my opinion and anyone else that has or has ever seen the change that a 4 Paws dog and Karen and the whole staff has made in my childs life the 10,000 is nothing compared to what these dogs can offer these children, so until you have personally had a 4 Paws dog in your life or a friend or families life you have no room to speak!!!!!!!!! One other thing that I would like to add ANY service dog is still just a dog, they are not some kind of robot and accidents DO happen, just like any of your children could have an accident in public!!!!

Submitted by Service Dog Mama | November 4 2009 |

A $10,000 anchor??? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Autism Service Dogs are trained to SEARCH for their charges if/when they take off without notice - an event all too common among children with autism. Hardly a month goes by without news of a child with autism dying because s/he "eloped" - ran out or away unsupervised. Many children with autism also have no fear of dangerous situations, walking into traffic or a nearby pool, pond or lake, or going outside without a coat or shoes in sub-zero weather.

Yes, there is a very vocal minority who object to tethering. My guess is that they are either unaware or ignorant to the fact that tethering is a way of preventing accidents and injuries to these children. It also reinforces the appropriate behavior - staying with your parent, teacher, etc. rather than running off.

If you don't believe in tethering, don't - but don't ask me to take unnecessary risks with my child's life. And don't defame a highly lauded, credible agency just because their philosophy is different from yours.

Next time you feel the need to criticize talk to the driver of the car that hit a child with autism (who later died from his injuries) or the woman who saw the situation, called 911 for help but witnessed the child hit by that car. Talk to the schoolmates traumatized by the loss of their peer. Or talk to the parents who blame themselves for their child's accidental death.

AN AUTISM SERVICE DOG is A LIFESAVER as well as a calming influence. Time and time again these dogs have been shown to increase academic and social skills among children with autism in addition to allowing them (and their families) to experience a more normal life, rather than remaining shut-ins to avoid the risk of the child running off.

Submitted by Mark K | November 4 2009 |

Well, Anonymous, your post goes a long way to demonstrating the old axiom "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

Submitted by Annienonymous | November 8 2009 |

Can Anonymous really be this uneducated on the topic?

This statement by anonyomous gives insight in a number of areas -

--- Insensitivity of human beings to others
--- Lack of common (actually not-so-common) courtesy
--- Lack of understanding or basic knowledge about autism
--- Ignorance on the topic of service animals and their skill sets
--- Ignorance on Federal Law and Service Animals
--- Ignorance about nonprofit organizations

If I had posted something like this, I would be hoping to find a way to quickly get the post deleted before the search engines pick it up and the rest of the world sees it!

Submitted by Julie | January 15 2010 |

I find the comment of anonymous quite ignorant. I am not a parent of a child with autism but I am partnered and tethered with my Labrador Service Dog, as an adult with Epilepsy. I have had my dog for 4 short months, see her as nothing short of a blessing and she has changed my life by alerting to seizures before I have any idea something is about to happen. As a woman with complex partial seizures in addition to tonic clonic, my service animal increases my level of safety. I no longer wander into traffic when confused, set potholders on fire or place myself in harm's way. Much like a child with Autism, I NEED to be tethered to my animal for my own safety. I would not hesitate to tether a child whose animal's handler is trained in such techniques.

As for deficating on a floor. Many scenarios other than neglect of the animal can cause accidents. My animal has vomited in a mall (and because she was working, attempted to keep walking, while I delayed her and cleaned it up) and had diarrhea (also attempting to keep walking). While cleaning up the diarrhea (I always carry a "spill kit" in her pouch) she proceeded to have more stool leaking out and her back legs were shaking as she knew this was unacceptable behavior - she was attempting to keep going as her first priority is ME. As a responsible handler I took her outside just 20 minutes prior and had not fed dinner to her to avoid the need to defecate. Sometimes a dog gets sick in the most terrible moment and it isn't just the handler at fault. Most responsible people who have service dogs are mortified when such events occur and would not condone such behavior by their animal. Sometimes "accidents happen."
If my dog becomes stressed, becomes ill or for some other reason defecates on the floor @ the mall, I am understanding and responsible. However, one transgression doesn't mean she shouldn't be a service animal. She is still an animal. If she continues to do her job and keep me out of harm's way, I am fortunate. If I have a tonic clonic seizure, I'll defecate on the floor and be hauled away by ambulance. Does this mean I can't do MY job any longer? Don't be so judgmental. Perhaps you NEED to walk a mile in an autistic parent or Epileptic's shoes before speaking to that which you don't know.

Submitted by Teresa | July 10 2013 |

You are absolutely positively WRONG. I cannot believe what you have written here! If you knew anything about Autism or autistic children and their needs, you would not be writing these things. First of all, every single ASD (high functioning or not) is considered a neurological disorder, just like seizures. As an AS patient and SD handler, I can tell you, my dog is NOT an emotional support animal, and a SD for an autistic child isn't either. Look up this website: http://www.iaadp.org/psd_tasks.html. This site explains SOME of the tasks an autism SD may preform in a psychiatric capacity. What many people do not understand is that autism SDs take on tasks from nearly every SD classification. My dog performs some tasks like a seeing eye and a mobility dog would, keeping me from entering traffic or getting lost, and helping me with my balance issues, both common tasks for autisim SDs, especially for children. When a SD preforms the "tether" command, they are preventing the child from running away, something that happens quite often with autistic children. When they run, they end up getting lost, hurt, or worse. The "tether" helps to keep them safe, a task that CERTAINLY mitigates their disability, as they wouldn't be running willy nilly uncontrolled if they weren't autistic. If you really want to get picky though, to be considered a SD, the dog merely needs three tasks to mitigate the disability, and as I'm sure you know, having JUST three tasks is hard to accomplish when you really need a SD. There is a WIDE array of tasks these dog can and do preform for these children which DEFINITELY classifies them as a SD and NOT a glorified "anchor" or emotional support animal.

When the author of this post was talking about Jingles urinating in the elevator she was still training, and accidents happen. If you are in fact a handler, you should recognize this and know that the dogs do in fact have bad days occasionally and as the author said, they're animals, not robots. While in training, things happen! The dog doesn't just go out into public knowing exactly how to act! They make mistakes and learn from them, that's how great service dogs are made. Also, these children are not at all expected to independently handle their SD's. An adult is almost always present, just like any other normal child is supervised. They are not all of a sudden expected to be on their own. In fact, many times, it is the parent giving the commands, not the child. The dog is there because they are able to do specific things that a parent simply cannot. Being autistic myself, I know how much having a furry pal makes a difference. I am simply able to connect to my SD in a way I cannot connect with people. Of course my dog provides emotional support, just as I'm sure yours does, but that is not at all her sole purpose, it is merely a side benefit.

Though I will not disagree with your statement about money hungry organizations, the rest of your post is disgraceful. It shows how incredibly ignorant you are. Next time, get all of the facts before you decide to post something like this. Not every disability is visible. Just because you can't see or understand what a dog is doing for these individuals does not mean they are useless or fake. As a handler yourself I would expect a little more understanding from you.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

People who know little to nothing about a subject should not be so quick to show their ignorance to the world.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

I must respectfully disagree with anonymous. You seem to be very misinformed as to the duties of an autism assistance dog. Yes, my son's service dog does provide him emotional support, but she also provides him the ability to function in public without having a serious meltdown due to anxiety. She provides him with the ability and desire to interact with the world around him- things I am sure that you take for granted. She disrupts his "stimming" so he can focus, be productive and learn. As for a $10,000 anchor- worth EVERY penny. While visiting Washington DC, my son(tethered to his service dog) and our family were crossing a very busy street. My son is obsessed with numbers, and as we got to the other side of the street he attempted to run back into traffic to look at the countdown of the crosswalk sign. He would have easily broken my grip had I just been holding his hand. He would have been KILLED by oncoming traffic. many families of children on the autism spectrum feel that going out in public is just too difficult, so they retreat- service dogs give many individuals and their families freedom to live life again. Also, the child is not the handler of the dog, as you implied. The dog, child and ADULT are a 3 person team. Clearly, you do not have a child with autism, or even know someone who does. Your ignorance about the disorder itself was very apparent.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

To the person who posted who didn't "condone" tethering, I want to point out that you don't understand what tethering provides the child and family, and you have grossly mischaracterized it as an "anchor". You are neither an expert on this kind of service dog nor on the Federal laws protecting them. You took the DOJ quote out of context and did not provide the rest of the DOJ statement: ‘‘[t]he term service animal includes individually trained animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental disabilities.’’ Autism and the tasks these autsim dogs have been individually trained to perform fall squarely under this definition.

While there may be money-hungry organizations out there, I certainly hope you didn't mean to imply that 4 Paws for Ability was one of them. I strongly disagree with you. The dogs they have placed have transformed the lives of their clients and families for the better. I know, we are such a family, and I have talked to many more. The service dog we received from them has an incredible temperament and is very well trained. She is unphased by any place that we have taken her, from malls, to public transportation, and the hospital.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

Why would anyone want to be nasty to a parent trying all they can to help their child? Do you know what it's like to live with autism? I honestly hope my biggest problem is that my service dog defacates in public. Anything providing comfort and help to my son whether it does it's business is worth it to me. You cannot put a price on quality of life. Seems to me like you have a chip on your shoulder in regards to autistic children. Shame, Shame on you!!!

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

I think you should not talk about what you no nothing about. Many of these children are incredible escape artist and scare their parents to death on a daily basis. The dog is not just an anchor, she is a well trained service dog or she would not be certified. She is train to search for that child, interrupt inappropriate behaviours, and keep the child safe by not letting the child run off (hence the tether. Plus she is trained to be incredibly tolerant of all children so it is appropriate for the the dog to attend school with the child. It give the child some independence and the parents piece of mind. Until you have walk in their shoes you should not criticize. This is new to this family and the dog, give them time, it is a work in progress. No Person/service dog partner relationship just happens- it takes time and the development of their relationship.

I think it is sad that you can't even own your comments by signing your name to them.

Liz Rezanson
BC Canada

Submitted by Alicia | November 5 2009 |

WELL SAID 4 Paws families!!

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