A 16-year old boy named Kyle in Mechanicsville, Virginia has received a very special delivery of his very own Autism Service Dog from SDWR to help assist him.
Kyle, a 16-year old boy living in Mechanicsville, Virginia, has received a very special delivery of his very own Autism Service Dog from Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers to help assist him and better communicate his needs. Based in Madison, Virginia, Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, or “SDWR,” has a mission to provide specially-bred dogs for people with invisible disabilities like Diabetes, PTSD, Seizure Disorders, or in the case of Kyle – Autism Spectrum Disorder. SDWR has hundreds of service dogs working across the US and around the globe. SDWR is currently serving approximately 1,000 families.
Gabbi, a golden retriever Autism Service Dog, recently graduated from SDWR’s Service Dog Raiser Program where volunteers diligently raise puppies in training for over the course of approximately one year. Both the dogs and raisers must complete the foundation and skill set training provided through SDWR trainers at their facility in Virginia.
Gabbi is also an honored graduate of the SDWR Fallen Officer Puppy Program. The Fallen Officer Puppy Program, also known as “FOPP,” is an initiative by SDWR to pay respect to the legacy of service by fallen American police who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. Gabbi is named in honor of fallen hero Trooper Gabriel Lenox Rich of Alaska who was shot and killed while investigating reports that a person had brandished a firearm in the village of Tanana several days earlier. Gabbi’s work as an Autism Service Dog with Kyle will carry on in memoriam of Trooper Rich’s life of service before self.
Kyle was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 12-years-old. Kyle’s disability affects him in his family in many ways. Kyle’s family is unable to go out much since there has to be two adults monitoring Kyle almost all of the time. Kyle’s mother, Kathy, explains that, “He has sensor issues, becomes over stimulated and isn’t able to calm himself down.” Kyle is missing his right eye and his depth perception is off especially when he gets tired. He also wears a project life savers ankle bracelet so if he runs off from being overstimulated his family can locate him by calling the sheriff’s office. Kyle’s family is hopeful that a service dog will act as a guardian for him and help keep him safe and comfort him.
Gabbi will assist in reducing the effects each diagnosis has on the family’s independence and daily life by working continuously with Kyle. Since Gabbi is a service dog and covered under laws in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he will be able to accompany Kyle and his family everywhere – from church, to school, and even to the grocery store.
SDWR’s unique training program is what sets them apart from other non-profit service dog organizations. SDWR trainers will continue to return for training sessions with Kyle, his family, and Gabbi every 3-4 months over the course of the next 18 months to continue working on Gabbi’s customized training, follow up training and training the human to make a successful team and public access certification.
Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers is a nonprofit organization based in Madison, Virginia, and relies on donations to help the organization in its mission, “Until there’s a cure… there’s a dog.” To make or donation or learn more about SDWR, please visit the website, https://www.sdwr.org. To learn more about Autism Service Dogs go to https://www.sdwr.org/service-dogs/autism/. To find out how you can volunteer as a puppy raiser visit https://www.sdwr.org/volunteer-opportunities/.