Service dogs are vital in the lives of numerous people with different disabilities. We came across an article that featured a special service dog to help people with autism.
Sawyer Hamilton, a teenager with autism in Utah, uses an autism assistance dog provided by Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a nonprofit organization in California. Sawyer’s mother noticed that he interacted better with animals, so in 2000, she applied to CCI for a service dog. After two years of waiting, Sawyer received his first service dog at no charge. Hal, a black lab, changed Sawyer’s life. He began reading above his grade level, could take the bus to and from school by himself, and has plans to go to college.
Similar to other service dog programs, CCI has a strict breeding program. The puppies go to volunteer families until about 15 months then to go to training centers across the US for 6 months to train to be a service dog. The service dogs learn roughly 40 different behaviors before being placed.
Although Hal passed away in 2011, Sawyer received another service dog, Topper, and continues to thrive. Sawyer’s mom says she cannot imagine where he would be without his service dogs.
If you are interested in donating to CCI, you can donate here.