We embarked on the path of getting an Autism Service Dog for Aidan last April, after we dealt with Aidan bolting into traffic. This terrified me because Aidan really never does this, but it was that one time and I was lost. He was not hurt, but the fear of him doing it again was too much. Aidan also attends a school where there is no proper fence, so the possibility of him bolting again is very real.
I wanted a dog with a purpose that would help protect Aidan and enable him to make it through his day, despite the new situations or routines he would be exposed to. We met with Wade Beattie from Autism Dog Services from Cambridge, Ontario in April of 2008. We were quickly evaluated as a strong match for this type of dog and started the fundraising to get our new service dog.
The cost is 18,000 and although that appears overwhelming, it truly was not an impossible task to fund raise that amount. We thought about fund raisers to generate the money and started off by writing letters with my child's picture on it to all of our local businesses and service groups. I contacted the local radio station and paper about doing an article on Aidan and then made a website. I applied to PC Children's Charity Fund and waited. I received donations from some people but the amount I expected to generate did not happen as quickly as I would have liked until I was contacted by our local National Grocers (Cash and Carry) who told me that they would be donating the entire $18,000. I was overcome with excitement as the goal of getting Aidan's dog was very close.
We were given a name for dog, and our proposed dog is Hunter. We are now confident that he will be the dog for us, although sometimes it can take trying a few dogs to see which one is truly a match for your family. We have already shared a weekend with Hunter at home and it was a great experience. We are expecting Hunter in the beginning of March and are hoping for another visit soon.
If you think you might be interested in a service like this, then please check out the following websites:
Autism Dog Services 139 Hewat Street, Cambridge, ON N3H 4H2
Wade Beattie is also a contact on my autism page, so he can be messaged through Facebook, but I would suggest looking at the links first to answer your questions before contacting Wade personally. This just ensures that you have a clear idea of whether or not a dog would suit your family and what you are truly seeking from a service dog. Autism Dog Services typically only trains dogs for residents in south western Ontario, as the demand in this area is quite high. Any questions you may have can be answered through the websites provided, or by contacting Wade personally.
I hope this helps with everyone's questions about service dogs and if you would like to see some videos of Hunter or pictures they can be found under my videos and pictures. We will also take more videos and pictures during our next visit.
We are very excited to welcome Hunter into our home and look forward to what an Autism service Dog can provide for Aidan... safety, security and companionship!