Anything is PAWsable right?

Started my research a month ago looking for the right organization to get Cody a dog.  There are several different organizations out there all with different missions, requirements and fees.  The process takes around two years for the training before Cody would even get to meet his four legged companion and an average cost for a service dog can vary around $7,000 up to $20,000.  Anything is PAWsable right?  I see a lot of fundraising in my future.  Cody has always been surrounded by lots of furry friends and one reason why I believe of the benefits.

I was recently on a phone interview with an organization and she asked me, “What was most important that we gain having a companion dog for Cody?”  I explained, “Being non-verbal, Cody needs a companion to decrease anxiety during medical visits, school activities, travel, etc. Having a service dog that can recognize and gently interrupt dangerous situations or even block while walking into an intersection.  A companion that might respond to signs of anxiety or agitation with a calming action for Cody.  I have seen how some dogs gently lay across a child’s lap similar to a weighted blanket.  A dog to help him sleep soundly by being by his side in bed. Cody uses a weighted blanket and it seems to be the answer to a good night’s rest right now.  I also think it’s important to have a companion that could nudge him a bit in social settings if we are playing at a park or at a school function.

I have learned through my research that there are different types of animals that are used for autism and many other disabilities. A Companion, Therapy and Service animal.

Companion: Golden retrievers, labs and labradoodles (lab-poodle mixes) tend to make good therapy dogs given their calm, loving disposition and high intelligence.  An affectionate dog provides unconditional love and friendship on a daily basis. Walking the dog provides both exercise and a “social magnet” to ease conversation with our children.  Learning to care for the dog teaches responsibility and practical skills. And pets provide parents with opportunities to teach and model caring behaviors and consideration of a friend’s needs – both important social skills.

Service:  These dogs receive extensive training and official certification to help perform functions that present a challenge for a child with autism or other disabilities.

 Therapy:  These dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort in therapeutic situations. Typically, they work in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare and mental health facilities. Outside of medical settings, therapy dogs have become popular in the autism community for their calming influence and ability to promote social interaction.

At the end of the day, selecting the right animal means finding a highly individual “match” with Cody’s needs as well as our family needs. I have learned that this process will take patience.  Home visits, special training, waiting periods can take up to two years from start to finish.  Cody’s dog will need to train for our unique needs. Such as spending time on baseball fields, attending clay shooting competitions, being around horses, etc.

Our hope is to create a very special connection between Cody and his dog.  My hope is to have this in place by the time Cameron graduates high school as this might be a tough transition too.

I am at the beginning stages of this process and still have a lot of homework to do but ready to start digging in and getting my paws dirty.  I recently was very intrigued by one nonprofit organization out of Missouri I came across and their mission is helping the rescued become the rescuers.  Being a dog owner to many rescuers in my life time, I love this concept.


Published by mamalamaneustupa

Bio My name is Shelley Neustupa. I am a mother of two cool boys and a wife of 22 years to my high school sweetheart. My oldest son attends the University of Oklahoma. Boomer! My youngest is in 2nd grade and was diagnosed with Autism and Mixed Receptive Expressive Disorder at age 2. Since his diagnosis, I promised him I would advocate and educate as hard as he works each day in therapy. I began writing and have been able to touch many parents that may be new to this journey providing them with actual experiences (not candy coated), support and resources through my entries. Writing is my therapy and my hope one day that my nonverbal son will be able to take these diaries and speak about his own journey and how autism relates to his own experiences. Who knows he and his older brother may become National Speaker’s one day? Come along on our journey to better understand our lives through the eyes of a boy with autism, his Skilled Companion dog Jude, his big brother (and best friend) and mom and dad. My raw vulnerability captures the everyday moments of our journey and will bring even more awareness. A week does not go by where we do not learn something new about ourselves and I want to share these chapters with you. My Sons Undeniable Strengths… Extremely smart and figures out things quickly. Has a memory that allows him to remember more things than I could ever hope for. Persuasive by his personality and sheepish looks. Overabundance of stamina and strength. Loves the outdoors. Enjoys life and always has fun with an unforgettable smile. You can find us here: Writer: Autism Through His Eyes Facebook Instagram YouTube Pinterest Canine Companions for Independence News Interview Cody and Skilled Companion Jude - Our Story

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