This week I’ve got an article from Matthew Readman about his service dog and how it’s helped him…
“As you all know from my past articles, I have a problem making friends due to my Asperger’s. It was recommended by my pediatrician to consider getting me a companion dog. After speaking with my doctor, my parents approached me with the idea.
My first reaction was “are you crazy, I’m afraid of dogs!” You see, when I was young I had been bit by a dog and had some bad experiences with others. So the thought of getting a dog scared me to death.
I thought “why would I want a dog, it’s only going to bite me. I don’t need this anxiety in my own home”. But I was wrong.
My parents and I went to the National Service Dogs here in Cambridge, Ontario. The National Service Dog matches service dogs and companion dogs with people with disabilities. What I found out is a lot of dogs are matched with kids with Autism and Asperger’s.
I asked the lady we were talking to “how is this dog going to help me especially if I am afraid of them?”
She explained that all the dogs are trained and will not bite and for me not to worry. She explained that a dog is the best listener and gives unconditional love. She will be my friend forever and will never turn her back on me.
First thing I thought was “sounds good, but things that sound too good are not real”.
The lady brought us back to meet some dogs, and of course I hid behind my mom. She gave us treats to give to the dogs for my first contact with them. I eventually gave some to the dogs (dropping the cookie on the floor before they could reach my hand) and thought “well none of them bit me yet”.
My mom discussed the details with the lady on how to apply for a dog, then we left. About two weeks later the lady from the National Service Dogs dropped over for a personal interview. She brought a service dog with her to see how I would react with the dog in the house.
I went outside with her to play with the dog. I will admit it, it was fun. The lady explained that we would be placed on a waiting list and when they feel they have the perfect match for me she will notify us.
Well that day came just before Christmas. They introduced us to our new dog Ellie. She is a black Labrador with a heart of gold.
I have now had Ellie just over 3 months. I will admit, I still don’t like dogs, but I love mine. She greets me every day with kisses and yes she listens really well (she has not shared any of my secrets).
I didn’t realize that a dog can change your life. My mom says my anxiety level is down and I seem a lot more happy. I take her for walks and she loves playing ball. The best part is when I come home from school after having a bad day, Ellie is there to make me smile again.
If I could, I would match all kids with Autism and Asperger’s with a dog. They make you feel special and loved. When I see her when I get home, she makes me forget about my day with her tail wagging and her big smile.
The quote “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself” (from Josh Billings) is an exact metaphor for my feelings of Ellie because I know she will always love me even when I hate myself.
On behalf of the National Service Dogs of Cambridge, we were asked as a family to help raise funds for the care and training of these exquisite dogs. National Service Dogs’ Companion Dogs are valued at $5,000; however, they are provided to families free of charge.
NSD receives no government funding and relies entirely on support from corporate sponsors, local community members, service clubs, and annual fundraising events
I have been asked in the past how people can help kids with Autism If possible if you can donate (any amount) to help raise a new service or companion dog for another child with Autism. I and my family would be much appreciated. Thank you for reading my blogs. If you are interested please see the link below:
P.S. Matt wanted me to make it clear that there is no minimum donation and if you could even offer just $1 it would be hugely appreciated.
In addition to Matt’s thanks I have also just recorded an hour long interview with Matt and his mum Nansi. Where they reveal their own methods and strategies for coping with Asperger’s.
So everyone who donates will get a copy of this interview in mp3 format for free.
All you need to do when you have donated is send me a message through this link:
and I’ll send you the interview in about a weeks time, when I’ve edited it.
To donate please go to:
Thanks for your help,