It's Autism Awareness Month!
It’s Autism Awareness Month and I desperately want to bark about my handler! We do everything together and I can’t imagine life without you. For so long, I trained long and hard and I wasn’t sure why. But then I met you and my entire world made sense. I worked longer and harder and kept you in mind. And when the day came that I got to join you in your house, I was nervous but I knew I already loved you. It took a while for you to accept me; I was a different addition to your life. But I was persistent. Everyday, I loved you more. Then one day, you started petting me. I got a hug. A kiss on my muzzle. And now, we do everything together. I love you so much so I wanted to share seven ways that I show just how much I appreciate you, as your loyal service dog.
1. Cuddles and doggy kisses, from the best service dog ever. Yours.
Firstly, I show my love how most dogs do… with plenty of wet kisses and a long moment of snuggling. Nothing is better than getting some belly rubs and hugs from my favorite person. And from the way you giggle and squeeze me tight, I can tell you enjoy our time cuddling as well. Sometimes, it’s simply because we want to but other times it’s because I can tell you need it. Either way, I want you to know how thankful I am to be in your arms.
2. Giving you space, which I know can be important for people with autism.
Though I crave our cuddle time, I know my handler needs space now and then too. But even though space is necessary, it only makes our relationship stronger. So I’m ok with it. Sometimes, I need a little space too. We do so much together so sometimes it feels good to lay on my doggy bed and watch you play some video games or tune in to your favorite show. Afterall, they say being apart makes the heart grow fonder, and I know you appreciate it.
3. Experience a new place, with your service dog at your side.
My handler has autism, so when we first began working together, I noticed that you would get quite stressed and upset when we went somewhere new. I want you to know that life is an adventure and I will be right at your side, to let you know everything will be ok. As years have gone by, I have seen you blossom into such a beautiful, confident person and I am so proud to have been a part of this growth.
4. Calming my handler with autism during a bad day.
We all have bad days but I’ve noticed that my best friend who has autism sometimes needs some extra help to get calmed down when frustrated or overwhelmed. I love lying in your lap and offering a nudge to help you relax. I’ve been through thick and thin with my handler. I’ve seen you harm yourself with a thump to your head. I’ve seen you sob tears of sadness and frustration. But I know you will be ok. And I want you to know that I will be there. Always. Even after I am gone, I want you to think back on these moments we shared and find comfort in them during your bad days.
5. Playing together, to bond further with your service dog
Early in our relationship, we discovered this amazing game called “fetch”. My handler loved throwing the ball in our backyard and watching me bound after it. And, of course, I loved chasing it and spending time with you. Playing and spending quality time together gave our relationship a boost and it is still something we enjoy to this day. In addition, I’ve seen my handler make even more friends after learning how to play with me!
6. Accomplish a task together, as a service dog team
I was told that one of my reasons for being was to help my handler grow and learn how to react to the world around them. I’ve supported you as I watched you learn how to put full sentences together and give me instructions, express what you want, read me books and stories, and gain new friends along the way. We have accomplished great things together and I cannot wait to conquer even greater ones.
6. Devote my entire life to you, my best friend
I was chosen for this for a reason. I had what it took to train hard for you. I was meant for you. And as my muzzle grays and my pace slows, my wise eyes couldn’t be happier with all the accomplishments we have made together. I don’t regret one day, one moment with you. We learned from the tough days and celebrated through the good ones. After a lifetime together, I know I will always remain in your heart and you will remember the lessons we learned while together. I love you and appreciate you. Forever.
We all know dogs are amazing. But a service dog… a service dog is an exceptionally amazing dog for an amazing individual. These individuals are taking on challenges that most of the world is unaware of. This month, we would like to show our appreciation to all the autism families out there. We have worked with so many, cried with so many, and felt overwhelming joy with so many.