April, 2010

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Smiling Service Dog

Friday, April 30th, 2010


I love this photo of Jingle. She’s waiting at the side door, ready to go play with her canine BFF. Riley is her human BFF. This picture captures her absolute sweetness. She’s smiling, isn’t she? Can you get a feel for just how soft her muzzle is? Do you see how white her chest is? Her fur is thick, but it’s like silk.

Fluffy? Check.

Cute? Check.

Those were Riley’s only two wishes.

The smiling is a bonus.

Things to Consider Before Obtaining an Autism Service Dog

Monday, April 26th, 2010


1) It costs money to fund raise and go to service dog training. 

We obtained Riley’s dog through an organization called 4 Paws for Ability. Through the generosity of friends, family, neighbors, blog readers and our community we raised 11 thousand dollars in order to obtain Jingle for Riley. Free dog for us, right? Hold up.

We also paid almost $2500 out of pocket for our ten day hotel stay during training, fund raising efforts, hall rental for the benefit concert held, food and door prizes,(though much was also donated), and postage and supplies for several mass mailings. The list goes on and on.

Many families fund raise for these additional expenses. We had the means, and people had already been so generous we felt we could not ask for more donations. But Jingle did not come “free” to us.

2) A service dog is still a dog. They are not robots. They are not slaves. They will not behave perfectly all the time, especially if you don’t continue to work with them.

3) It will take a while for your child’s dog to respect you and trust you, and mind you consistently. 

4) Positive praise always works better than negative, (you know, like with children).

5) People will give you unsolicited advice, about whether they think your child needs the dog or not, and later about what training methods you are using with the dog. A thick skin is required.

6) People will stop you endlessly to ask questions once you have your child’s dog. This is mostly cool, but some days you won’t feel like being the service dog ambassador. Some days you’ll wish you could just read your book while your children take dance lessons.

7)  You don’t own your child’s dog. Technically, Jingle is the proud property of 4 Paws for Ability. We must send in yearly paperwork, complete with vet check reports and proof we’ve actually been working her as a service animal. If Jingle gets lost, her microchip doesn’t give our #, they call 4 paws.

8) There is no guarantee your dog will be allowed in your child’s school and you might face a big legal battle if you decide to go that route. We opted to homeschool for this and other reasons. 

9) Most people we meet are loving,curious, accepting,welcoming and thrilled about service dogs.

10) You will have no idea how great it is, watching your child bond with their dog. We find out a lot about what’s going on in Riley’s mind, by listening to her speak in “Jingle’s” voice. They get closer every day. It’s a beautiful thing, and totally worth it.

Lots of kids are still waiting for their dogs. Read their stories here if you’d like to help.

PBS Documentary on Service Dogs

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

This looks to be fantastic. Thanks to Sally (one of our 4 Paws classmates) for sending me the link!


Premiers April 21. Watch the trailer here.

Check your local PBS listings for times/dates.

Two Girls on a Raft

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

At Girls on the Run the other day we talked with the girls about the importance of relaxing, and led them in a couple of different short meditation exercises.

After, the girls were given the opportunity to share what they visualized during meditation.

Riley said, “I visualized being on an indestructible raft with Jingle, floating down a peaceful river made of peanut butter. Not chocolate, because chocolate isn’t good for dogs.”

The raft had to be indestructable. The river had to be safe for Jingle. Once those two details were hammered out, they floated, peacefully, happily downstream.

Take a picture, it’ll last longer!

Monday, April 5th, 2010
IMG_2573 by you.

This is Jingle’s unamused look, as I leave the house without her.

She’s staring me down through a screened door on our porch.

Seth lured her inside with a treat so I could escape without guilt.

Those eyes.

Stop staring at me Jingle!

I can’t take it!

Swiper No Swiping!

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

The other day I went down to the basement to attend to the laundry, and Jingle stole Seth’s cinnamon bun off a plate on the kitchen table.

Today on Animal Planet, we watched Stains the Dog do the same thing.

Somehow it is much funnier when Stains does it. Watch here. He seems to be actually “possessed” by the cupcake.

Jingle, don’t make me get a video camera and a talking collar!