BALTIMORE, MD. AUGUST 31ST, 2022
When we asked you to nominate an organization specific to our Autism Acceptance Pup, many of you nominated 4 Paws for Ability.
This incredible organization enriches the lives of people with disabilities by matching them with life-changing service dogs. They breed, raise, AND train these incredible dogs to assist their future human partners!
With YOUR constant love and support, Puppie Love was thrilled to make a donation of $5,000 to 4 Paws for Ability. Grab some tissues and read on to learn about Derek and his best buddy Layton from 4 Paws for Ability!
Today, Derek and his service dog were able to attend school together for the first time since we received him. We also just hit the year and a half mark where Derek met his best friend, Layton! These events have had me reflecting back on what life was like without Layton. Looking back I can't believe how fast this time has flown by but more importantly I'm overwhelmed reflecting on how much peace, laughter and joy this regal goofball has brought into our home. While waiting those 2.5yrs to get Layton, my husband and I talked and dreamed about how Derek's service dog could help him. But, I can honestly say that we didn't dream big enough!! We have seen so much growth in Derek's communication skills, responsibility, behaviors and most of all empathy.
Derek was almost 3 before he said "mom" and even then it was a "learned label" through his many different therapists working with him. He is not a "huggy" affectionate kid and still has a hard time reading & processing others emotions. After just a couple of days into our training class at 4 Paws I'll never forget watching Derek smother Layton with hugs and kisses! And if I'm being honest, as a mom those were the spontaneous hugs and kisses that I longed to have with him. We joke all the time now that the rolls of "kisses" have been reversed with these two. The only task Derek wanted his service dog to do was to give him kisses, so if I'm ever wondering where this dynamic duo is, all I have to do is be still for a minute and I will hear Derek smooching on Layton. I still tear up at times hearing Derek so compassionately telling Layton that "He loves him" and that he's "his best friend in the whole wide world". Derek does have so much love and compassion in him, we just needed this amazing ball of floof to bring it out!!
Since we have brought Layton home, we have been in constant awe watching Derek's social life bloom. Derek has autism so conversations with strangers is hard for him. You would never know this now. Out in public Derek is searching for people to be looking at his service dog. Many times before they even having a chance to comment on Layton, Derek so proudly tells them, "This is my service dog Layton, you can pet him if you want to!" We have seen this social bridge expand into areas such as school and other various youth groups he participates in.
Before we got Layton, Derek rarely slept thru the night. His mind was usually full speed ahead around 2:00 every morning and he would stay awake until that evening when we gave him medication to help his mind and body shut down long enough to get a few hours of sleep. It was such a brutal cycle for several years and I know that a lot of his behaviors during that time (which have decreased significantly) had to be related to severe lack of sleep. In this past year and a half that we have had Layton, some nights my heart just swells with so much love walking into Derek's room and seeing him sleeping so peacefully and relaxed. He has slept thru the whole night almost every night since we brought Layton home and let them sleep together!! I'm so grateful for this dog and for the peace, love and comfort he gives his boy!! Thank you 4 Paws for Ability for training such an amazing companion for our son!!
Learn more about 4 Paws for Ability at the links below!