Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kids meeting dogs

This week in Xenia, Ohio, a bunch of wonderful, deserving kids are meeting their service dogs for the first time. The kids and the dogs are getting used to each other, learning each other's personality quirks and ways of doing things. I'm sure it will be a real life-changing experience for everyone involved.

So what happens when the kids meet their dogs for the first time? Well, some are scared, some are excited, some are uncertain, and some are oblivious. That's why you hear about the autism spectrum. And not all the kids who get dogs through 4 Paws are autistic - some have cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, deafness, or even a combination of challenges. 4 Paws tries to carefully pair each child to the right dog, taking into account the personailities and temperaments involved.

A lot of kids with autism and similar disorders are notoriously uncomfortable in new and unfamiliar situations, and sometimes it's all the parents can do to keep them from running away. If you know any kids like this, you know that something like this can be a bit stressful at first, and many would be especially leery of "the licking end" of the dog. And if you know dogs, you know they'll win these kids over in the end.

My prediction is that Amelia would pretend to be unimpressed, but her curiosity would show through. And she'd surely giggle if the dog licked her.

Here's a video that was shot at the beginning of the March 2008 training class:

- Edson