January 18, 2011

Dogs Are Calming Creatures. Just Not My Dog.

Dogs are wonderful creatures. They heal, they love unconditionally. They can lead the blind, predict seizures, and smell cancer. Just not my dog.

My dog has issues. She is a compulsive licker. She pushes her food bowl around after we feed her, like she’s burying her food for later. Except she’ll do it until her nose bleeds. She gets so excited she whacks her tail against the wall until it bleeds. Doctors actually call this “happy tail.” I’m glad my dog isn’t the only one.

She is very, very smart, and when I had the time I took her to agility classes, and obedience classes and Rally-O and she always did great. We went through Canine Good Citizen training, and excelled, but failed the test because she was just too keyed up to behave.

She senses when there is tension in the house, like when Moe is really manic and I’m trying to calm him. But instead of using her powers for good, she has to be right in the middle of everything that is going on, in the most unhelpful, right underfoot way.

My dog barks when people come to the house. And when they leave.

My dog is on Prozac. It only helps a little.

Some dogs are amazing companion dogs. They can be really therapeutic for kids on the spectrum, help to bring them out of their shell, calm them, give confidence. My kids tolerate our dog. Moe likes the feel of her fur and Jelly likes to chase her around with her baby doll stroller. But Berkeley is anything but a calming influence in the house, especially for me.

But Berkeley wasn’t bred, selected and trained to be a companion dog. Some dogs are, and some people really, really want them. I recently read about a little boy whose family is trying to raise money to get him a companion dog. He is a wanderer, and these dogs can help keep the kids from getting lost. (This is something I’m definitely going to explore for Moe.) A few days ago, this little boy was badly burned when he pulled a pot of boiling water on himself. I can just picture Moe, just looking for his mac & cheese, doing this same thing, and it is so scary. To keep up to date with his progress and learn more about how to help, click the picture below.


  1. Funny! We have a dog like berkley. She is nice. Honest. But not exactly, um, service material. We decided against a service dog for the time being because the boy was attacked by a dog and it freaked him out. So I got Ms. Boringest dog on the planet and a psycho border collie that completely ignore him and we're all good there!

  2. I was just overhearing a couple of women talk about service dogs for their (non-autistic) disabled kids. They were saying that the place that they got their dogs from did NOT provide them to autistic kids. I thought it was interesting that they can be specifically trained to support different disabilities.

  3. Thanks a million for supporting Deeds. The nonprofit we are going through for his service dog is www.4pawsforability.org if you want to look into it more. It took us 5 months to decide it was best for him, now we can't wait.

    -Bobbie, Deeds Mom.

  4. I know someone who had a therapy dog for their autistic child. It really did wonders for her!


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