Dogs Are a Man’s Best Friend: Saul Is Thatcher’s New Best Friend

Three years… That’s how long it took to get from the point of making the decision to get my son, Thatcher, who has Autism, an Autism Assistance Service Dog.

$14,000 was the fundraising goal that we had to meet to get here. We ended up with just over $15,000, meaning that some lucky kiddo out there got a portion of what we fundraised to go into their fundraising total. We don’t know who that lucky kid was, but I’m sure that child’s parents were searching in desperation for a miracle, much like I was when they received that little bit of extra funds.

Finally, the day came yesterday when Thatcher finally got to meet his new service dog, Saul.

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A lot has changed in three years time, though. When I initially signed the papers for Thatcher to get a service dog to help with his elopement (a very dangerous behavior found in around half of all children with Autism), we didn’t know that Thatcher had epilepsy. I had my suspicions, but we weren’t sure yet. We also didn’t know that I, or Thatcher have Celiac, which is an autoimmune disease for which there is no cure and the only current treatment is a strictly gluten free diet.

The first year of fundraising was practically non-existent. I really didn’t know what I was doing, which direction to go in, or how to do fundraising of any kind. I was so busy with Thatcher that I pushed things aside a bit, but Thatcher elopes, meaning that he has been known to run away from his parents in a public place or just wander away. When I first started the process, Thatcher bolted away a lot. Now, after years of ABA (behavior) therapy, he doesn’t do that as much, but he still, on occasion and when overwhelmed will still bolt. This is especially true if he sees an escalator, even though he used to love riding on them. Still, though, because the behavior is still so common and Thatcher does still wander off when he thinks no one is paying attention, I decided to continue on the process of getting him Autism Assistance Service Dog from 4 Paws for Ability, Inc. that will be trained in tethering, tracking, and behavior interruption. So, here we are, now in a tracking class in Xenia, Ohio, staying at a Homewood Suites, and continuing our journey.

Thatcher has been talking about Saul on random occasions all week prior to us coming here. We have been told that we will definitely see some 4 Paws magic, but to be honest, just the look on Thatcher’s face yesterday was magical.

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