Monday - Friday • 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. [EST] • 330-239-8238

  Loading... Please wait...

Sign up to our Newsletter



Mon - Fri
9 a.m. - 4 p.m. [EST]
330-239-8238


My Account
Sign in or Create an account
View Cart


Blog - service dogs

Hospital Scene Highlights Bond Between Service Dog, Autistic Child

Posted by

Although many of us are familiar with service dogs being used to help the blind, the military or even our local police force, one type of service dog is offering a much more personal service. Dogs trained to help autistic children.

For parents of children with autism, their child's unpredictability is often a daily struggle. And, although no two children are the same, service dogs paired successfully with autistic children are lessening this dilemma by influencing the child's behavior.

One story of a service dog assisting a disabled child became an Internet sensation when the dog, Mahe, accompanied a nine-year-old New Zealand boy, James, to the hospital showcasing the bond between James and his dog.

James' mother, Michelle Isaac, noted that,

"Mahe has changed our lives so much. He is a real part of the family now. The main thing he does is help to keep James safe and calm when he's out.”

As the mother explained James,

…has profound autism, so he gets quite anxious when we go on outings. He's very impulsive and he doesn't have any awareness of danger.”

When James, after having unexplained seizures, went to the hospital, Mahe proved an invaluable partner. The situation was an emotionally, nerve-racking event for the boy, who does not talk, but Mahe was up for the challenge. Before the boy's MRI, the service dog hopped into the hospital bed with James -- calming the child.

After James came out from under general anesthesia, the dog was, once again, by his side in the recovery room. Mahe

"…got his face really close to James, who was asleep by that point, and he reached in to sniff him. He looked really concerned. It was quite touching," James’ mother said.

Training The Dogs

Mahe is just one of many specially trained service dogs entering the homes of families with autistic children. These dogs, improve the child's life by everything from, interrupting meltdowns by leaning in, nudging or licking the child -- to ensuring safety by retrieving a child who is running away.

But often the greatest service these animals provide is being a much-needed, non-judgmental and helpful friend. These dogs have been instrumental in helping children improve their language skills as kids speak more freely with their dog.

For one family their service dog simply added to their son’s happiness.

“I don’t know if he likes her soft fur, or just the warmth or just the company of someone else, but they bonded almost instantaneously,” the McGillem family said.

Popular Breeds

Because of the specific needs of autistic children, only a handful of breeds are generally used. Breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retriever-Labrador Retriever crosses are the most common because of their easy-going temperament and their high intellectual level. These dogs learn more than 30 commands or behaviors.

Because the dogs are paired with children, often young children, the extensive – and intensive -- training can take as long as 18-24 months. Often the service dogs are provided at no cost to the recipient, but that does not mean they are free. Costs associated with these dogs ranges from $15,000 to $20,000 which is why some organizations require families to participate in fundraising efforts.

Volunteers Help

Another approach to driving down costs is using foster families to train the dogs. Besides reducing costs, since volunteers pay the expenses, this method also acclimates the service dog to a home environment. But, the method can be hard on volunteers since they develop a close relationship with the animal during the training.

But, for most it's about seeing the big picture. One couple who trains the dogs, noted,

“We know there’s a greater good out there for her (Cecile) and they told us the best way to get over giving up a pet is to get another one and we’ve talked to people who’ve done 14 or 15 of them."

It's a win-win for everyone.

View Comments


How Do you Retire a Service Dog?

      When Is It Time To Retire Your Service Dog?I never thought about this question until a few days ago when I had to bring my beloved Service Dog to the Vet for x-rays on her hips. She is a large Doberman Pincher, but at only 6yrs old I’ve noticed her slowing down and showing some difficulty [...]

Read More »


Training My Own PTSD Service Dog

A Little Background About me My name is Steven and I am 54. I have multiple physiological and psychological issues and have been on disability since 1994. I have had anxiety/panic and depression issues throughout my life. I have had various diagnoses depending on the doctor at the time, but they more or less followed the same [...]

Read More »


Training Your Own Service Dog

Training your own service dog is no easy task. It takes a lot of commitment and patience, but the bond that will be formed between you and your dog will be a strong one, and I believe it makes for a better team than if someone else trained your service dog for you.  The first step [...]

Read More »


Ten Things You Might Not Know About Service Dogs

Ten Things You Might not know about Service dogs 1.Only dogs can be service animals. Miniature horses are allowed in some cases.                                                  2.You can deduct the entire upkeep of your service dog off your taxes under medical [...]

Read More »


Teaching Your Dog To Pull a Wheelchair

Teaching your dog to “pull” can be a great asset. Your dog would be able to help you out of a chair or bed, but better yet help you pull your wheelchair.  If you want to train your dog to pull you in your wheelchair there are a few things you must consider. Your dog must [...]

Read More »


The Yellow Dog Project Helps Service Dogs

    What is The Yellow Dog Project ?The Yellow Dog Project was created to bring global awareness to dogs who need space such as:Service DogsWorking Dogscontagious diseasesleash reactivityinjuries and painful physical conditionsintolerance of other animalsrecovery from surgeryfearful of unfamiliar or rowdy dogsaging and elderlylearning self control around other dogsare owned by people that want to [...]

Read More »


Diabetic Alert Dogs Better Than Tech Tools

Diabetic Alert Dogs – Service Dogs Sniff  Out Health  ProblemsWith type 1 diabetes there is the endless monitoring of blood sugar levels, even at night, which can leave you sleep-deprived and add to an already stressful existence.  Service dogs can be trained to sniff out unhealthy blood sugar levels in humans — and alert them 20 minutes [...]

Read More »


Keep Your Service Dog Safe This Halloween

Halloween Can Frighten Your Dog Halloween may be fun and games to many people, but for your service dog, or any dog for that matter, it can be a very frightening experience. Service dogs are conditioned to many sights and sounds so that they are a calm dog that does not frighten or bolt from sudden noises or strange objects. [...]

Read More »


Service Dogs Help More Than the Blind

When most people see a service dog they automatically assume it is a seeing eye dog.  I get that all the time when I am out with my mobility service dog. I hear parents telling their children, “Don’t pet that dog, it’s a working dog and is guiding that blind person.”  That’s because the seeing eye guide dog is [...]

Read More »




Visit us around the web!

Vests for Service Dogs on Facebook

Facebook

Vests for Service Dogs on Twitter

Twitter

Vests for Service Dogs on Pinterest

Pinterest

Vests for Service Dogs on Google+

Google+

Visit Vests For Service Dogs's profile on Pinterest.


🐾 Back to the Top ↑