Monday, April 22, 2013

More on Tethering Kids to Dogs

Recently, I wrote about tethering kids to dogs.  A mom named Karlye took the time to email me to tell me about her two-year-old son who is autistic and his service dog MaddySue.  I asked Karlye if I could post her email her so other readers could learn more about this issue, and she generously said yes.  I broke the message into paragraphs to make it easier to read, but otherwise haven't changed anything.

My son and I are part of a three unit tethering team. He is an autistic two year old that has had difficulty in the past with wandering and bolting as well as anxiety and lack of communication. MaddySue, our 6 year old boxer has allowed he and I to have a new lease on life. The security of knowing my son will no longer run toward traffic with me frantically running behind and screaming his name praying he won't get hit is like a fresh breath of air. When the two of them are in a confined place such as our back yard, they are tethered to each other because of my sons climbing skills, he can easily climb trees or over fences, but with the privacy fence I know that if MaddySue took off chasing whatever she couldn't go far. That being said,  when we are in public we function as a three unit team. MaddySue and kip are tethered together while there is a lengthy lead from me to MaddySue. We can now all enjoy outings to the mall or whatnot knowing that she can keep him close and in the event she looses her focus, I'm there to control her.I too could never immagine leaving MaddySue and kip tethered together in public without me for fear if all the dangers that lurk, so in that regard I agree with you. 

Our life has changed so much because of this. Not only is MaddySue a tether dog, she has also been trained for sensory stimulation. In the event that kip is having severe anxiety or is upset MaddySue uses her body to put pressure on him to allow him to relax and gain control of the situation instead of running away. She has also helped with communication, before we had her he spoke with only three words from ASL, none vocalized. He now plays with her by saying "fetch or come" and has even started verbalizing to his father and myself by hiding behind MaddySue and then talking to us indirectly using only a few words but no sign language! Miss MaddySue is a blessing to our family....

Thank you for taking the time to read this and maybe this can help you to understand better the other options for tether training.

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