Meet Lacey, an 8-week-old Yellow Lab/Golden Retriever mix. Lacey is just 8 weeks old (born just before Christmas 2014), and though she was not our first choice at the first viewing, she showed us at the second viewing that she was the right match for the autistic human child she will be raised and trained to work with.
At the first viewing, Lacey exhibited anxiety and insecurity, she whined a lot, and she did not respond favorably to any of the temperament tests or the few stimuli-responses tests we were able to conduct. However, when the human child was brought to the second viewing, last night, she made a beeline directly towards the child and stayed close to him while he played. He overbalanced himself, once, and fell on the floor; Lacey immediately ran to him to make sure he was okay, and she stayed with him until he got up. And when the child picked her up the wrong way, instead of fighting him, whining, or nipping at him, she became very still and waited for his parent to take control of the situation. Then, she went right back to the child and continued spending time with him.
Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, Lacey’s first year of life will be spent living in two homes: my home, and the home of her new family. When she is old enough to take the Canine Good Neighbor test, and when she passes it and receives her certification, she will then live with her forever family full-time. In the meantime, Lacey will get the socialization and training she needs, as well as work experience with her human child. Once she is in her forever home full-time, her training will become more specialized to include support and assistance to her human child.