Category Archives: Autism

Welcome Ben and his SDiT

Ben and Lucy Bonnie Wild Style

An update from our trainer Candace, in Ft. Worth, who is working with new client, Ben! Ben is an eight year old boy that has been through so much in his young life. As a result, this beautiful young child has autism, PTSD, and anxiety that causes him to get very nervous when in public. His adoring parents write that “Ben is a sweet heart that God made special.” How lucky Ben is to be a part of such a beautiful family!

Candace writes:

“Ben’s mom, Lacey, just adopted this beautiful 6 month old girl to be Ben’s shadow/helper/friend. They are already attached at the haunches! Ben hasn’t decided on a name for this sweet girl just yet, but he is leaning towards Lucy, I think. We shall find out shortly. Everyone give this family a warm welcome as they start their journey on the hard but rewarding road of Service Dog training and ownership!”

Congrats to JT and SD Maggie

A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO J.T. AND MAGGIE, IN HOUSTON, WHO PASSED THEIR P.A.T! I had the wonderful fortune of meeting 4 year-old J.T., who has autism, and his amazingly brilliant, dedicated, and kind parents in Houston to give J.T. and his now SD Maggie their final test. It was an incredible experience watching how much they have taught Maggie, how receptive she is to J.T., and how much of a difference their lives have changed as a result of being together! We went to Petsmart, and J.T. and Maggie were perfect – J.T. holds onto Maggie’s handle on her vest, and if J.T. starts to wander off, J.T.’s parents (always one of them present) give the command to hold on to Maggie, and J.T. does! Maggie herself knows all the dog commands beautifully, and is not distracted by anything. Her focus is always on J.T. If J.T. wanders off a bit, the parents just have to tell Maggie to “find the boy” and Maggie will lead them right to J.T. We also trained at Kohl’s, and it was just as wonderful. J.T. would walk next to Maggie, and if J.T. started to wander a bit, Maggie would instantly be by his side. We played some hide and seek games in the toy department of Kohl’s, and had so much fun. J.T. was enthralled by some of the toys at Kohl’s, and Maggie never left his side – no matter how long he looked! When J.T. has a bit of a meltdown, (which have decreased since having Maggie), J.T. tends to curl up in a ball on the floor – and Maggie will just step over him with her body covering him and J.T. calms down so much more. I am so proud of all the hard work this family has done, and feel absolutely confident that things will just get better and better for VERY smart J.T. and VERY smart SD Maggie! Again, congratulations!!!!!


SUPERB training – Veronica, Isaiah & SDIT, Shaggy!

From our dear trainer, April, who is working with Veronica and her son, Isaiah, who has autism.

“We had a SUPERB training with team Veronica, Isaiah and SDIT, Shaggy! Isaiah stayed home with his dad while Veronica and I took Shaggy out for our first training in a store. We needed to get Shaggy used to going out in public before introducing Isaiah and Shaggy so Veronica could get a feel for how it should work and not be nervous. Shaggy AND Veronica were pro’s! Shaggy walked next to the shopping cart, heeled very nicely, did a few meet and greets, and loved working. We worked on Shaggy turning with the cart and keeping from getting under foot. We also worked on “leave it”, loud noise distractions, “sit and stay”, “down”, “load and unload” and getting used to the smells of the groceries, sights, sounds, distractions, etc. Nothing fazed this team! We also worked on “under” at the Subway restaurant inside the restaurant. This team is MAGNIFICENT!

Next session, I will bring along my daughter’s SD, Gretta, so Shaggy can socialize and interact with other dogs (he’s an only dog and it is hard for the family to get to the dog parks) – and we will take both SD’s out in public and build on our training and getting ready for the PAT test.

Veronica reports Isaiah and Shaggy are bonding more and more every day. Shaggy has even helped Isaiah minimize a few meltdowns!”


A wonderful experience from Veronica

A wonderful experience from Veronica, whose son, Isaiah has autism, with their SDIT, Shaggy!

“Hi Laurie! I am so happy today I just had to share my story. I have been very nervous about taking my son’s SDIT out with us alone because of the fear of stares and other negative comments. We have only taken him to Dairy Queen once, but that was months ago. I decided to just go out and do it today – so I got Shaggy and Isaiah and we went walking to Family Dollar. To my surprise, it was a piece of cake!! Because of Isaiah’s autism, he tends to run or wander off and it is difficult at times to go to the store. When crossing the street, I would have Shaggy get in a “sit” position first and then we would cross. As soon as we entered the store, there was a little girl crying – and this is one of the things that sets off my son into a terrible meltdown and we have to deal with biting, kicking, and screaming – but I had Shaggy sit right next to Isaiah, touching him, and kept telling him it was ok – and Isaiah didn’t even cry! To make a long story short we went in and out of the store with no meltdowns!! WOW! One of the cashiers even looked at us and gave a friendly smile. Now I am actually excited to go to the store again!


4 year-old JT and his SDIT Maggie

From Wes, father to 4 year-old JT, who has high functioning autism, delayed verbal ability, and sensory difficulties. This family in Houston has done an amazing job training consistently with their son and his SDIT, Maggie, and will soon be taking the Public Access Test!

“Hi Laurie – As an update, we went to Space Center Houston last weekend. It was packed with families and school groups. We gave JT and Maggie about 10 minutes in an out of the way corner to get used to the sights, sounds and smells, then proceeded to tour the facility. JT held on tight to the handle on Maggie’s vest, allowing her to guide him through the crowd and overstimulating environment. They were inseparable and neither wanted to leave each other’s side! JT was able to participate in just about anything he wanted to with confidence! They climbed up and down multiple sets of stairs together and rode the tram tour to Apollo Mission Control. JT did have a couple sensory related meltdowns. One was in a very crowded walkway at the top of a flight of stairs and an elevator exit. While JT was lying on the ground, Maggie stood covering over the top of him and kept him from being stepped on. JT recovered much quicker than in the past, prior to Maggie. We were approached by one of the educators, who said she had seen many Service Dogs come through and felt Maggie was the calmest and most confident one yet!”


Alissa and her SD Greta

Another TREMENDOUS training session with dear 24 year-old Alissa, and her SD, Greta!!! Despite all the physical problems Alissa has been going through, Greta is right by her side, comforting her, and conducting herself PERFECTLY in public. Having mom April as a trainer herself doesn’t hurt, but she is smartly determined to give Alissa all the confidence she needs and deserves to show Alissa that she can go out into the world with SD Greta and do a wonderful, amazing job, bringing joy to others and setting a wonderful example of courage and strength. I am SO proud of Alissa and all the work she does with Greta!! This session, we took her to the “dreaded” super HEB at the busiest time possible!! Alissa did it – and was magnificent. So was Greta. We practiced all basic commands in the store – sit/stay, down/stay, several meet and greets – which Alissa is getting more and more comfortable with, perfect heel with and without leash, watch me, leave it, load and unload – it’s like they are tied together by an invisible “love” bond. Greta is not phased by any distractions I tried to create, and the ONLY thing we need to work on is that at home, when Alissa is feeling ill, it comforts her when big Greta gently wraps her front arms and paws around Alissa. The hugs make her feel wonderful. When we are doing meet and greets, Greta, who loves everyone (but Alissa the most), will do a gentle meet and greet and take treats gently, but as people (mostly children) want to keep petting her, she does a little “bunny hop” because she wants to wrap her arms around them, too. So that is what we will be working on. It’s a tricky one – because we want Greta to continue doing it with Alissa – but not to anyone else. So, teaching her where and when it’s appropriate without dampening her enthusiasm at home is a thinker.On a side note, you’ll notice a woman in a wheelchair in the picture to the right. When this woman first saw Greta, Greta instantly went up to her and laid her head on this woman’s chest. The woman started crying, and petting gentle Greta. We asked her if she was OK – and it turns out, this woman had literally been diagnosed with lung cancer at the very spot where Greta laid her head. She just cradled Greta’s head and neck in her arms and cried. It was literally something out of a storybook. Greta instinctively knew where this woman was hurting, and brought so much happiness so this woman who said that just meeting Greta brought her out of her despair for several wonderful moments.

That’s what it’s all about. Service Dogs. The intangible “knowing”. The healing power of animals and humans.