He may be a top dog at the Westminster Dog Show in New York in February, but Wyatt is already a winner in the hearts of kids with special needs. The Rhodesian Ridgeback with the sixth sense for kids is officially known as Ch. Rambo’s Gunfight at the OK Corral, and he is competing at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for the second year. When she isn’t showing him, Janice Wolfe, founder of Merlin’s Kids, and breeder from Wyckoff, N.J., also works with Wyatt to help assess the individual needs of autistic children and others.
Trained therapy dogs can make a big difference in the lives of some children with autism.
But they’re also expensive.
That’s why a local doctor is recommending some families look no further than their family dog for help.
Higgins the therapy dog is already a big help in Dr. Rolanda Maxim’s autism clinic at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.
Young patients anxious about having their height and weight measured can watch Higgins do it first.
“In the company of a dog, a child will become more relaxed, more interactive, more social, less anxious,” says Dr. Rolanda Maxim, an autism specialist at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.
Now Dr. Maxim is taking the idea one big step further.
She’s recommending select families in her practice use their own family dog to increase interaction at home.
Juke, a service dog, is trained to calm 10-year-Logan, who has autism, and to keep him from wandering. As you can read here, wandering is particularly dangerous near Logan’s Alaska’s home – thanks to the local bear population and the nearby Bering Sea.
XENIA — Logan Erickson pressed his nose against the airport window near his hometown of Unalakleet, Alaska.
The little boy with autism who hadn’t spoken in about seven years watched a family friend — Iditarod sled dog musher DeeDee Jonrowe — get on a plane with her dog, Miyagi. Jonrowe had been stuck there because of a storm.
“It was like the perfect moment,” said Logan’s oldest brother, Austen. “He was saying ‘Miyagi’ and Miyagi had just got on the plane. It was perfect. It was cute. It was just amazing to hear him say his word and hear him use his voice.”
Ten months later, the Ericksons were in Xenia on Tuesday at 4 Paws for Ability, a service dog training nonprofit organization.The family started 11 days of training so that Logan could get used to life with Juke, an 18-month-old golden Lab.
A legal battle over a boy and his dog has ended, allowing an autistic second-grader to bring his service dog to school for good.
In a ruling released Aug. 24, the Fourth District Appellate Court of Illinois said the Villa Grove Community Unit School District #302, located south of Champaign-Urbana, could not keep seven-year-old Kaleb Drew from attending school with his service dog, Chewey, setting a precedent in the first known case to challenge the Illinois School Code regarding service animals in schools. The school district has now granted Kaleb and Chewey a permanent hall pass, apparently ending the year-long battle.
It was the dog trainer’s honesty that won Lisa McMillan over.
When McMillan asked the trainer whether she was able to train a dog to assist with her autistic twin boys, the dog trainer said, “I don’t know anything about autism.”
The mother did. And Kelli Collins knew how to train dogs. Together, they would train and raise a puppy to be a companion to the then-3-year-olds, Eric and James. Collins would work with the puppy, Caleb, on learning the boys’ scent so he could find them when they bolted. He soon would learn to comfort them, almost instinctively, when they needed a friend.
Here’s a nice story from Fort Wayne, Ind., about a child with autism and her service dog. A local middle school and other members of the 12-year-old’s community raised $11,000 for the autism service dog. What a nice change of pace from recent news stories about schools banning service dogs for children with autism!
KENDALLVILLE — Wayne Center Elementary School has a new student this trimester.
His name is Jefferson, and he walks the hallways, the classrooms, gymnasium and cafeteria on four paws. When he’s wearing his harness, Jefferson is all business. When the harness is off, he’s like most rambunctious, playful Labradors.
Jefferson is a specially trained autism service dog for 12-year-old Kelsey Fogle, a sixth-grader with multiple disabilities including autism. Kelsey is partially deaf, her speech is impaired and she can see only shadows in her right eye, but she moves about the school like other students with Jefferson’s assistance.