It has been a very long time since I last wrote, naively I have been waiting for Covid restrictions to be completely lifted & that is not likely to happen in near future.
Despite all the setbacks, BCAGD was able to successfully partner a few children with Autism support dogs.
Below is the 1st story as told by Abdullah’s Mom.
Eva & family.
Abdullah & Ocho’s partnership
My family and I were so thrilled when we heard that we would be getting Ochos, both as a new addition to our family, and as the much-needed support for my 10-year-old son with autism.
When Abdullah was younger, I was constantly on edge whenever we went out, and always kept hold of his hand in case he would bolt away with no awareness to danger.
This was also very difficult for me as a single parent because Abdullah has a younger brother Ibrahim who also required my attention.
Most of the time I had to let Ibrahim know that I needed to focus on Abdullah first, and that I needed his help too, for all of us to be together and safe.
Despite our efforts, there were always people in the community who would glare at Abdullah during a meltdown, or when he verbal stimmed.
My sons and I were once accosted by a woman who insisted that I take Abdullah to go have his meltdown in the public washrooms because she did not want to see him behave that way. I explained that he had autism, and that we were handling it. She continued yelling and stated that she did not care.
That was a difficult day for us; we left the place in tears. Ibrahim told me later that he was nervous about going outside again with his brother.I explained that it was not his brother’s fault that we had a bad day, and that sometimes he just needs help and understanding, but I was also anxious about when the next “incident” would happen.
Fast forward to having Michelle (our amazing instructor) and Ochos in our home.
We were all so excited, as Abdullah’s eyes lit up when he came home from school and saw Ochos in our living room. He was instantly curious about Ochos and was touching his ears, tail, paws, and face. Ochos was so patient and just stared back at Abdullah with his beautiful hazel eyes. Since then, we have had Ochos by our side at grocery trips and school pick-up and drop-offs.
Now it is safe to go to our usual fun places. Abdullah is calmer, does not verbal stim, and does not try to pull away when he is walking with Ochos. Ibrahim does not need to be heightened and aware of Abdullah’s behaviour because Ochos is by his side. People in public do not glare at us anymore and actually give us extra space and smiles when we walk through the area!
We have gained enormous confidence as a family with Ochos by our side, and we could not be more thankful to BC & Alberta Guide Dogs for making this wonderful change happen.
We are also so grateful to everyone who donates, sponsors and volunteers their time to this life-changing organization!