We were fortunate to meet Samantha and her trainer, Ashley, who work for the BC & Alberta Guide Dog Services. Through our meeting with Ashley and in reading the article accompanying our images our eyes were opened to just how vital BC & Alberta Guide Dog Services is to not just the visually impaired but to children with Autism.
Here is an excerpt from the Citizen Pet article by Sherry Butt, “Change a person’s life for the better: sponsor a guide dog or autism support puppy”:
“For Sarah Minardi-Giefert, taking care of her five-year-old autistic son, Kolby, was challenging before help arrived. That help was Archer, a Labrador cross/Golden Retriever autism support dog.
“Anytime we went anywhere there was a stroller involved,” says Sarah. Kolby’s dissatisfaction with anything would result in him going dead weight on the ground and Sarah would be unable to pick him up. Sometimes Kolby would take off so the stroller also kept him safe and secure. Unfortunately, autism is an invisible disability and people misunderstand an autistic child’s unpredictable behavior.
“There was no sense of understanding or compassion,” says Sarah. “When Archer is with us…there is such a different level of understanding when we are in public.”
Since getting Archer in July, the Minardi-Gieferts have been able to do a number of things other families take for granted including going to a restaurant and taking Kolby “trick or treating.”
The Autism Support program at B.C. & Alberta Guide Dog Services is only three years old, says Bill Thornton, CEO and founder of the non-profit organization. To date, the program has graduated 18 autism support dog teams with its most recent graduate the Kolby/Archer team in Calgary.
To learn more about B.C. & Alberta Guide Dog Services please visit their website. Find the full article in the latest Citizen Pet magazine.