When Maci was diagnosed at the age of 3 with autism, I felt a huge responsibility to protect her and help her to be self confident in her abilities. However, with all her challenges verbally and physically it would take a tremendous amount of work.
I had read and seen several stories of families getting service dogs for their child with autism. I started researching and asking about the idea of a service dog for Maci. I remember one comment from Maci’s occupational therapist at the time. She said to me “children with a disability naturally have a very hard time with building self confidence, they are constantly faced with anxiety in dealing with their environment.” She told me the service dogs provide the confidence and security they are unable to feel for themselves. At that moment I knew we had to get a service dog!
I started my quest to find a dog right for Maci and our family. In the application process with the agency, we needed to get referrals from our therapists, doctors and professionals to verify the need for a service dog for Maci. We were introduced to a trainer by our speech therapist. He asked me if I was open to getting a puppy and doing the training ourselves vs. going though an agency. He felt the bonding with a puppy would be a more rewarding experience for Maci and our family.
He told me it had always been a dream to help families with an autistic child to find and train service dogs. It was a very special conversation and moment, I knew this was the right path for us.
We began the search and our new trainer found a small family run breeder. They too were very passionate about children and families with disabilities. At that time, they had specifically breed with service and therapy dogs in mind. Both the mother and father of this litter were therapy dogs. We could not have found anything better!
Several months later, we took Maci to the breeders and picked up her new puppy. It was an instant bond and connection.
Today Pebble is 2 years old and is Maci’s companion and protector. Pebble has provided the self assurance and confidence for all of us!