As we move through April, there are now very few parts of the world which have not been affected by COVID-19. The global pandemic has temporarily changed our way of life, with shelter-in-place orders in force across the United States to reduce the spread of the virus.

Over the years, we have delivered countless service dogs to families around the nation, and our service dog team is constantly in regular contact to check on their progress. Life has changed for these families, too – schools are closed and socialization opportunities in public places are extremely limited.

Last week, we asked a handful of the families we’ve worked with in the past to find out how COVID-19 has impacted their lives – and their service dogs – over recent weeks.

Mr. Miyagi and Maxwell

These two have only been together for only a couple of months. Currently, there is nothing that they are doing differently with Service Dog Mr. Miyagi. Maxwell’s mother has mentioned one unexpected benefit of the quarantine, though – Maxwell has significantly more exposure to Mr. Miyagi. So after the first few weeks post-delivery, where Maxwell was not used to having Mr. Miyagi around the house, he is much more comfortable with him now.

autism service dog mr miyagi

“Maxwell is not at the point where he is initiating play with Mr. Miyagi, but just a few days ago, he was nicely sitting on the floor playing a couple of feet away from Mr. Miyagi for 10 minutes. We thought that was great.” – Lara B.

Darth and Haydan

darth autism service dog

It has been a definite lifestyle change for this family with the stay-at-home order in place – particularly as they are used to being on the go all the time. The kids and Darth have not gone to any indoor places since March 13th. The family has been able to do outside social distancing activities as much as the weather allows (although at times, it is 30 degrees and snowing, which makes it difficult).

Every time a member of the family tries to go somewhere, Darth jumps up and wants to go too, but the family are trying to ensure no one gets exposed in any way possible, so he must stay at home.

Splash and Ty

“Oh it’s tough,” explains Destiny, Ty’s mother. “Splash is so bored. He is used to working all day with Ty but Ty only leaves the house for OT.  Splash does go with him. We have been trying to go for walks every day, with Ty tethered and working on commands during walks. 

In the morning we work in Lay and Place. We trail on Sundays. And we are going to groom Splash  as there are no groomers open until May 1st.”

Read more about how Splash was trained to help Ty and the process of adding an autism service dog to a family.

splash autism service dog

Merlin and Pierce

merlin the service dog and pierce

Shelter-in-place has been hard for Merlin – he is very bored and looks to them to go out every day. The family are taking him on longer walks, but it is not enough, and they feel he’s a little sad not going to school. 

When they go out for an appointment, Merlin knows and gets excited about going out. Not having a groomer open has been difficult to deal with.

“Mer Mer such a good boy and loves all of us. He still gives love and comfort to Pierce and is his constant companion which is sweet. He is still in tune with Pierce’s mood and keeps an eye on him when Pierce is feeling frustrated or stressed. Overall, though, Pierce’s behavior has improved dramatically since Merlin has come to us – it’s as if he IS magical.”

Radar and Emily

“Radar misses working and going out. Every couple of days, we just go for a ride so he can get out.

We try to do some training daily, although training is a little different since it’s all at home.”

Pipe-Juliana and Lelo-Gabriela

pipe juliana and lelo gabriela

“It’s been a little crazy. First the grooming, luckily, I was prepared with the necessary to do it by myself at home – but challenging, nevertheless.

The other situation has been the change of routine. We try to let them play more on the backyard, since they are not going out at all. We have a designated person to go out to do/buy the essentials, that is my husband (my three children are at very high risk for this type of disease).

Gabriela and Juliana keep practicing with the dogs the commands reinforcing with treats. They are responding as expected. When Juliana has her online classes, she goes to her room and takes Pipe with her, but without the vest (he just goes to sleep on her bed).”

You can learn more about Pipe and Juliana’s journey together in this article.

Ryder and Charlotte

The biggest change for the family during this time is the fact that they don’t go anywhere, and it’s easy to become complacent about working with Ryder. They are adapting to home schooling and trying to be more disciplined about keeping up with Ryder’s training. They put his vest on him just to walk around the block.

Zoey and Mason

During the pandemic, Zoey has spent more time sleeping in, playing outside and going for car rides. She misses her routine – she likes to go and work, and Zoey misses the social aspect of school also. 

She is a very social dog and she is usually given the chance during the school day to visit everyone and give them some love. She misses all her classmates and teachers. 

When Dad gets home (he is still working), she goes crazy so they can play.

zoey service dog and mason
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