World Autism Awareness Day is Thursday April 2, 2020. We would like to introduce two of our advanced training Instructors, Michelle Murray and Danielle Hyson who are from the Autism Service Dog Program at BC & Alberta Guide Dogs.
Autism Service Dog Instructor – Michelle Murray
Being an Autism Service Dog Instructor is a way for me to combine my love for dogs and my passion for working with children. After working for many years with children and youth in recreational settings, I knew I wanted to work more closely with children with ASD and their families. To get to work with dogs everyday as well just makes it that much better!
It is amazing to meet the families who receive a dog and see first-hand the positive impact the dogs have not only for the child but for the whole family. Having a service dog opens up the world to them in a different way. It can allow them to do errands like grocery shopping or family outings like going to their local park with more confidence and reassurance that their child will be safe. When we spend time with each family we always learn something from their individual experiences about our program, our dogs, and ourselves. I feel so fortunate to be a part of each of these families’ stories and to get to see how their story continues after receiving a dog.
Autism Service Dog Instructor – Danielle Hyson
I became an Autism Service Dog Instructor because I wanted to help families and make a difference in the lives of children with autism. It certainly doesn’t hurt that I get to hang out with amazing dogs all day, but I really do this job because I get to help change lives. It’s been such a privilege to work with our families and I have so many memorable moments.
I love seeing the connection the children develop with the dogs and the transformation the entire family goes through as the stress and anxiety of taking their children out in the community is lessened because they have a dog that will keep their child safe. This results in the kids being able to have so many more community experiences. They get to go on hike, go to a playground, go to a restaurant, a recreation center or a hockey game all without worry, and that creates such a positive experience for everyone involved.
It is an incredibly rewarding career.