Autism Service Dog for Thomas

This is Thomas.

Thomas has been diagnosed with autism. He has significant developmental delays- for instance, he doesn't really talk or understand much of what is said to him. We have multiple locks on all of the doors leading outside, and alarms on our windows. Not because we're afraid of someone breaking in, but because Thomas escapes and goes running around the neighborhood if we don't. He beats his head on the floor or bites himself if he gets frustrated, because he has no other way to express himself.

A friend suggested we look into getting him an autism service dog. I didn't know those even existed, but we looked into it and were surprised and delighted by what we found. His therapists and doctors agreed that it was a great idea.

We tried to go through a service, but had a lot of problems with them. I don't want to get into it, but there's been some difficulty with them not answering important questions. Or keeping track of important paperwork that I send them. Or returning my phone calls. In short, I don't feel comfortable sending them a large sum of money. We weren't having a lot of luck raising that $13,000 anyhow.

We tried to find another service that met our needs, but with no luck. So we took some time to rest, regroup and research, and we've come up with another strategy. We had to stop and take another look at what we wanted, and what we could do to accomplish it. $12,000 to $15,000 for a ready trained dog isn't going to happen. Neither is traveling and staying away from home for a week or two to attend a training course. (My parents are laughing as they read this. To put it lightly, Thomas does not travel well.) So what else could we do?

We had to put a lot of thought into this . . . but we think we can train a service dog ourselves. Some of you already know that DH has hands-on experience and knows some techniques. He thinks that with some additional time and materials, and guidance from a professional dog trainer he knows of, we can do this.

We're still going to need a little help with vet bills, training tools, and paying the professional dog trainer for their time, so any assistance would be appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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Stephanie Ortiz 
Copperas Cove, TX
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