Dog days of summer

Joshua is now afraid of dogs, which I’m hoping is a temporary thing.  He got jumped on by a relative’s small dog, 3 times while we were visiting on the 4th.  He has never cared for small dogs, but he did seem to enjoy the larger dogs up until then, especially our friends’ Golden Retriever, Ruby.  However, while visiting my brother’s home this past weekend, in Cle Elum, Joshua displayed a lot of anxiety and would not go near his dogs.  These were 5 English Setters, each one trained, laid back,  and obediently staying only where they were allowed.  Joshua stayed clear of them the whole time we were visiting.  When in the house, he would only be on the main floor when it was time to eat, other than that, he was upstairs, either laying on his bed reading, laying under the queen bed, or playing in the closet.

The interesting thing about this was that when we were outside around the horses, he showed no fear with the horses, although not wanting to ride on them.  He was running around them, which scared the living daylights out of me, but he had a blast chattering and checking everything out in the riding arena, the yard, or between the arena and barn.  In fact, he also showed little judgement when trying to climb over the gate.  I wouldn’t allow it as it was taller than me and he simply wanted to climb up, throw his leg over and go for it.  He wasn’t successful when climbing over a two rung cedar fence, flipping himself over and falling on the ground, scratching his face and leg.  I had to move him elsewhere, to play as he had it in his mind that he was going to climb over the gate come hell or high water.  I wasn’t convinced he’d learn from the experience right away, either, despite Uncle Bill saying:  “He’ll learn”, knowing it would most likely end up with a serious injury.  We were there to have fun, not make a trip to the ER after all!

We also went to Lake Cle Elum, where he encountered both a terrier and two Labs.  He wanted nothing to do with the terrier but did seem to tolerate watching the labs while digging in the sand.  I spoke with his vision therapist today, and she mentioned that due to the dog that jumped on him, came from his side vision, it made sense why he wouldn’t care for the smaller dogs as they are quick and unpredictable in his view.  He has trouble focusing on things close, and that’s on things in front of his line of sight.  Larger dogs, he is able to, somewhat, predict where they are going.

We are going to have to take it slow with helping him through this as we had hoped to get a dog for him and the whole family.  We are blessed as our friends, who have Ruby, are having us dog sit, and we are hoping to utilize her to help with resolving his fear of dogs. The boys and I were just over today returning something we borrowed and my friend and I were sad to see that Joshua was, in fact, scared of Ruby now.  Paula and I worked with him for about 15 minutes throwing the ball for Ruby, one of Joshua’s favorite things to do with her.  We did make some progress with Joshua only throwing the ball when Ruby was down the deck stairs and then climbing into my arms, to having him standing with me hugging him when Ruby came up to return the ball for more.  Joshua would get down to throw the ball and then retreat to Mommy’s protection.  He even went down into the yard to try out the trampoline despite Ruby’s presence in the yard.   Joshua will hopefully, get better as we take this step by step, and Ruby seems to sense that he is having a tough time and keeps her distance.  We will have some more sessions with Ruby, I’m sure, before she comes to stay with us for four days at the end of the month.

My ultimate desire is to have a dog that’s  trained and that we could use for a therapy dog as well as a family pet.  Dogs are supposed to be great for autistic kids.  Since this is an interest of mine, for Joshua and our family, I’ve begun doing some research into how to get a service companion dog for him.  Here is what I’ve found thus far:

At 4 Paws For Ability it costs $22,000 to train and place a service dog with a disabled child. However, our families engage in fundraising activities as volunteers for 4 Paws to qualify for a free service dog. Each family is asked to help raise at least $13,000.

This one is nearby in Oregon, but still involves fundraising ($13,500)

There’s another place I’ve found with information to look into: and they linked to  It turns out that the application process could ultimately take up to 2 1/2 years before getting a dog (if selected).

This one I found for Washington State from this resource:  I’m seriously considering submitting an application to this place:

I just wonder if we could raise enough financial support to get a dog for him.   So much to learn about that, yet.  I still debate between getting a trained dog, or just getting a dog and training it for the basics and take it through therapeutic dog training ourselves.  If that were the case, then I would wonder about getting a puppy, or a rescue dog or one off of Craigslist from someone who simply can’t have one anymore.

So, why would Joshua benefit from having a companion dog?  I guess, I started thinking about it more just because he loves Ruby so much.  I was also thinking about when we are outside, having a dog that helps look after him and keeps him from running off and out of trouble to start with.  For example, whenever we are going to or from the car, I have to make sure he is headed toward the door as for at any moment, he will make a break for it, run around to the yard, veer around the tree and into the neighbor’s yard.  He then goes around their cars and comes out their driveway.  It’s both annoying (when we have time constraints) and, at times, nerve racking as I then have to make sure no cars are going in or out the neighbor’s  driveway…However, it does keep me on my toes and active (although, I really do need a better exercise program!)  I’m not sure what else a dog could be trained to do, but I do know it could help him calm down when he is anxious and, perhaps help him focus on what he needs to do.

Our dream dog

These websites show some ways having a dog would help an autistic child: and there is a lot on Youtube:  Since the process takes a while, we are looking at maybe submitting an application for a dog in the near future.   If anyone has any fund-raising ideas, please let us know!  Comments are certainly welcome.  It will be a change from all the Spammers!  😉

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 at 8:59 pm and is filed under Autism Resources, Autism Treatment, General Autism Info. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Dog days of summer”

  1. Deedee Miller Says:

    I’d be more than happy to run in the Seattle Marathon (well, 1/2 is about all I’d be capable of by Thanksgiving) in honor of fundraising for Joshua’s therapy dog. Most runners I know run for different causes, soliciting funds from anyone that will hear their plea. A lot of people feel good about donating to runners because you can see the runner’s sacrifice of time (training) and (physical) effort.

    It’s easier to train, when you’re doing it for a good cause, too!

  2. admin Says:

    Wow! You would? That is so cool! I am going to look more into this and get back to you! Thanks so much, Deedee! God Bless!

  3. Deedee Miller Says:

    I sure would! It’d be an honor, from one momma-raising-an-autistic-son to another!

    The best place to get help, would be the organization that raises/trains the assist dogs. If they were a 501c3, donations would be easier to come by, as folks are more willing if they can use the donation as a deduction.

    If there was infrastructure to have donors submit donations through the organization (PayPal, web widgets, paper checks,what-have-you), that would make the process a lot easier. 4 Paws for Ability seem to have the infrastructure for donations to a particular child’s dog, as there is a webpage listing them:

  4. admin Says:

    I’ll be looking more into this once we can actually afford a dog (the monthly food, vet care, etc.). We dog sat for 5 days last week and Joshua was nervous the whole time but showed some areas of improvement (tolerating Ruby being in the same room, as long as he was up on the top of the couch).


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