I have a 5-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), who is the light of my life. He has many strengths, but has many challenges as well. So when I discovered that they train Autism Support Dogs, I was immediately interested. I filled out the application with BC & Alberta Guide Dogs and went through the application process and then we waited. And finally, in Sept 2016 we were paired with a beautiful lab named Jennie B.
Jennie B has been a part of our family for six months now and I have seen so many changes in my son since her arrival. At first, he was standoffish, but then slowly I noticed him reaching out to her for comfort in the form of a small hand across her back or leaning up against her or just sitting with her enjoying her company. This was a huge step for him as he would only go to his dad and I up to this point. He now loves nothing more that accompanying Jennie B on a walk or any kind of outing for that matter. He is so at peace walking alongside her.
Then the big challenge came at Christmas time, when we decided to visit Santa for the first time. We were able to book a private meeting with Santa through a local program, giving kiddos with ASD a chance to meet Santa on their own terms and not be rushed. So, at first, he would not entertain the idea of going up to this stranger in the red suit, but Jennie B had no problem meeting Santa, and my son took notice. And eventually he was more than willing to stand alongside her to pose for his first picture with Santa. My heart was beaming.
Since then we really enjoy going out as a family and spending time going for walks, shopping or anywhere else the day takes us. Jennie B has brought a sense of calm to our household, and has also given us the confidence to take on any challenges that may come our way.
A big thank you to BC & Alberta Guide Dogs for this wonderful service you provide.