Type of Service Dog: Autism Service Dog

Darth is a large, black Labradoodle trained to help his handler, Haydan. 

When he arrived at the training facility in September 2018, Darth was just nine weeks old. In fact, at that stage, he wasn’t even called Darth – this boy’s original name was Dudley!

Haydan was matched with this lovable autism service dog a couple of months later – and requested a name change from Dudley to Darth.

What inspired the name change? Well, Haydan is a big fan of Star Wars and said that with Darth’s help, he would be extremely powerful and strong – just like the dark side!

darth and haydan
"Darth made it so it’s like Haydan doesn’t have a disability anymore."
Brandi Spoor
darth autism service dog laying down

Which tasks does Darth perform?

Darth is trained by Highland Canine’s expert team of dog trainers to perform a number of tasks to assist Haydan, including:

  • Deep pressure therapy
  • Tethering
  • Trailing
  • Touch
darth and haydan in the yard

How has Darth improved Haydan's life?

Children who are autistic often struggle with confidence in social situations. The addition of an autism service dog can give a child the confidence boost to interact with others.

Since obtaining his autism service dog, Haydan has gained comfort from Darth’s support. He now expresses more interest in leaving his home and loves to talk about Darth.

Haydan’s mother has also noticed a difference. She observed that Darth and Haydan quickly formed an inseperable bond, and it was clear from the beginning they would become best friends.

Darth attends taekwondo class with Haydan, and recently, has been helping him with his online studies due to school closures as a result of COVID-19.

autism service dog and child blowing bubbles