Catherine and I are off to Oakville, Ontario to be embedded in the Lions Foundation of Canada’s Dog Guides training school for 10 days (well, 10 for Catherine, 4 for me) of acclimatization and training with the service dog that will thereafter become part of our family.
Here’s how the Foundation explains their “Autism Assistance Dog Guides” program, one of six that they operate:
Helping children aged 3 to 18 years of age, Autism Assistance Dog Guides provide safety, companionship and unconditional love. These Dog Guides provide a calming relief for children in high anxiety situations and reduce the stress commonly experienced in public places.
What’s not to love about that?
That the Lions Foundation does this at no cost to the adopting family is a fantastic aspect of this program, and if you’re thinking “wow, you’re right, Pete, but how can I help?”, then you should pop over and make a donation right now.
Oliver, as you might imagine, is looking forward to this; it’s a process that started, really, several years ago when our friend Signe allowed her dog Sally became a sort of “service dog in training” for Oliver: we owe Signe and Sally a great debt of gratitude for that. Catherine pursued the possibility of bringing a service dog into Oliver’s life vigorously after that, and after an application about a year ago, and a home visit in the fall, a dog has been matched and it’s time!
It’s been a lot of years since there was a dog in my life: we had a series of dogs when I was a kid, and of course there was Penny, the infamous dog that ended up following me to PEI, but it’s been more than 20 years. To be honest, I’m more than a little nervous about all the practicalities – the peeing and the pooping and the walking and the eating – but I suppose if we’ve raised Oliver, we can care for a dog.
For a look at what we’ll be up to starting tomorrow, check out this great video from Rick Mercer on YouTube.
Oliver will be with my parents while I’m embedded until Saturday; then I will emerge and Catherine will remain and Oliver and I will decamp to downtown Toronto for a 4 day mini-father-and-son-vacation. We return Thursday next, Catherine and the dog (who, by then, will have a name, I hope) arrive the next day. After that it will be nothing but wall-to-wall dog pictures, dog stories, videos of dog antics, etc. in this space. Prepare yourselves.