We made the mistake of telling our kids that when we moved into a larger home we would get another dog. Now this is the type of thing that any typical kid would remember, so, of course there was no chance our 3 fringy kids with fly-paper memory would ever let us forget it.
And so, a year after we moved we found ourselves being hounded for a dog (yes, pun intended). And we were still unsure whether or not we were ready for this undertaking. But, Jon promised. Bigger than that, however, we began to think of the potential benefits for KBear to have her very own dog. We cannot afford a true therapy dog, but perhaps we could find a pseudo-therapy dog.
We kept our eyes open and perused the local shelter websites and petfinder.com. One day, we bit the bullet and brought the 3 kids to the shelter, letting everyone know that this would be KBear’s dog, so she gets to choose (with mom and dad having veto power). How could we have guessed she would choose the most perfect little pal?!
Daisy has her own little quirks and seemingly neurological glitches. Her movement mirrors the awkward, stiff gait of KBear’s dyspraxia. She fatigues quickly, like KBear. She chews and licks everything, like KBear. She cuddles only when and where she wants to and listens only when it seems like a good idea to her. Again, like KBear. It’s kind of amazing.
But, the really amazing thing has been to watch the connection grow between our daughter and the dog. Empathy and social connection seems to be growing in our ASD daughter. Her sense of responsibility has been increasing. Daisy helps her emotionally regulate and her sleep seems to be improved as Daisy is there to snuggle her at night. Even her rigid thinking seems to be easing as Daisy teaches her that sometimes life is unpredictable.
Of course, Daisy isn’t a full on miracle worker. We still have glitches and meltdowns. And I don’t know that all these positive changes can be directly due to our poor man’s therapy dog. But, it definitely seems linked. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while and was pleased to read this article that GHF had linked to, confirming my own observations.
Admittedly, we knew this little dog experiment could backfire. We knew that it could be a horrible idea. But, if you are at all considering getting a dog for your fringy child, we’d recommend it. KBear has even talked about asking the schools to bring Daisy in for when she takes tests because Daisy helps her calm down. And, on late nights when we’re out running Cub around to or from an activity, KBear always asks to bring Daisy, and the number of meltdowns have decreased. Daisy helps occupy her in the mornings or if she wakes up in the middle of the night, so we now know we will only have a KBear-sized visitor in the middle of the night if she genuinely needs us.
Even considering the extra work of caring for a dog, bringing Daisy into our daughter’s world has made our life easier, and hers. Daisy’s slobbery kisses and doggy smiles seem to indicate her world’s a bit brighter, too.