PAW-sible Dreams

Hard to believe I wrote this blog exactly a year ago today.  This is when we started our search.  After much research and reaching out to families who have a service dog, we narrowed our search and applied with one organization we absolutely fell in love with back in November. We have gone through a series of interviews and submitted applications and doctor referrals and have a face to face interview scheduled for July 20th.  I have a lot of built up nerves at this point but keep trying to stay positive and calm and remind myself once you choose hope, anything is possible.  If it’s meant to be, it will be.


I knew this would be a process (and should be) as bringing a Canine Companion assistance dog into your life is a major lifestyle change and commitment. I believe our family is ready for this and have a lot of hope of the good it will bring Cody.  There are different types of service animals and we have applied for a skilled companion.  We would attend a 2 week training to work with Cody under the guidance of Brad, Cameron and I if we move forward in the application process.  We would be the primary ones who cares for the assistance dog, encourages a strong bond between Cody and the skilled companion dog, and responsible for the customized training needs of the dog.  During our phone interview we identified commands that would be supportive of the benefits we are looking to achieve.

Benefits for Cody include:   

  • Help with Socialization – interacting with his peers and can be the social bridge between his self and others – hoping to be a bond
  • Potentially incorporating his companion into his existing therapies – possibly communication benefits (adding commands to his Proloquo2go)
  • Increasing independence in chores associated with his companion (feeding, walking, brushing, etc.)
  • Easing Cody’s high anxiety and providing comfort especially in doctor offices and dental appointments and areas where is loud.
  • Developmentally delayed – fine and gross motor skills – gain independence
  • Help guide in unfamiliar public areas and help with obstacle avoidance with sensory input becomes too much
  • Teaching Cody empathy or help with understanding the ability to read social signals (crying or sad) and to ask questions and push him to engage in conversation
  • My husband and I often tag team when we go places due to it being too much for Cody to attend
  • Help when we have family gatherings

I felt I needed to share today just to un-bottle some of my nervousness.  I will keep you posted as we move through this process.  I will never stop trying if I believe it will help our Cody Rivers.  Read this today, “Don’t be afraid to close your eyes and dream. Don’t be nervous to open your eyes and create those dreams into realities.”  


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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