Sunday, April 6, 2008

Our visit to Brigadoon

Welcome to Brigadoon Assistance Dogs! I've realized that I haven't told you all about the PROCESS of getting a service dog--I don't know how much you know about what it takes to get a service dog, but I sure didn't know a whole lot. the interest of information and education, I'm going to share what I learn with you. :)

It all started about 5 years ago. My mom was interested in getting me a service dog, but at that time there weren't any organizations that would even allow you on their waiting list until you were 5 years-old (I was 2). So she tabled the idea. Fast forward a few years and she began toying with the idea again. So, off to the internet she went, found some websites, and talked to a couple of people who currently have a service dog for their child with autism. That led her to Brigadoon Assistance Dogs. Finding a service dog program an hour away from us is nothing short of a small miracle (Mom was sure we were going to have to travel out of state).

Once she was put in touch with Brigadoon, she drove up with Grum (my grandma--her funny name is another story) to tour the facility and meet the owner. I didn't go on that visit because apparently I'm a little distracting and she had a bunch of questions to ask. She and Denise (the owner of Brigadoon) talked about what my needs are and what a service dog could/would do for me. Denise told my mom that it could take up to two years before a dog could come home permanently with me. Getting a dog isn't necessarily on a "first come first served" basis--its all about the right personality and bond between boy and dog. In other words if she had 5 "available" dogs, but none of them "clicked" with me, then she would be looking around for a dog that might fit my personality and needs. She sent Mom home with an application book--I mean packet--to fill out complete with reference letters and a doctors note. Once Mom turned that back in they set up a time for me to come up and meet Denise and her dogs. I was then put on the "waiting list".

In January my mom, Grum, Amber, and I drove up to Brigadoon to "meet" Denise and some of her available dogs. (Blind date anyone?) Here's how it worked--Denise brought in different dogs one at a time to see what my reaction would be toward them, and their reaction toward me. Now keep in mind my experience with dogs is our ex-dog Tucker (a wiener dog who didn't like kids), Grum and Pa's yappie dogs (sorry Grum), and Charlie and Rugby (friend's dogs). So this first meeting I wasn't sure what to think. Mom said it was interesting to see the interaction between me and the different dogs. Some I wanted nothing to do with (especially if they tried to put their wet nose on my palm), while there were two who they thought I was interested in. After meeting about 8 dogs I was EXHAUSTED! Denise took notes on the reactions/interactions between me and the different dogs, and put the two that I seemed to not mind so much in the back of her head to watch for over until our next visit.

Which brings us to TODAY! Mom, Auntie Noel and I went up for a visit and some pictures. When we got to Brigadoon this afternoon Denise told us that one of the service dogs I seemed to like was no longer in the program--he just wasn't "service dog" material. She wanted me to meet Nugget, a two year-old golden retriever and see a couple of the collies again. So, off to doggie dating we went. The pictures below show all but one of the dogs I met today. I'll give you more details under the pictures.
This is me walking into Brigadoon

This is Nugget. She is a beautiful golden retriever. She LOVES balls and other toys, but once she settled down, I sat down next to her, petted her, and played with her feet. She was sooo soft and sweet and it didn't matter what I did to her (like try to touch her eyeballs).

Next came Gypsy--a one year-old smooth-haired collie. I'm giving her a treat in the picture. Gypsy was a little on the hyper side, but she's still a puppy so that will calm down over the next year. What was interesting about Gypsy was she followed me around the room, and kept her eyes on me most of the time. She didn't pay any attention to my mom and was only interested in me. On the other side, I didn't show enthusiastic attention to her (they think it's because she wasn't as mellow as Nugget)--I was just more interested in the cat perch.....
This is Gypsy staying with me even when I wasn't paying attention to her (no one told her to go over by me). After Gypsy came Lily who wasn't out long enough to get any pictures of. She wasn't sure what she thought about me, and was a little nervous--so she's not going to work.

After Lily came Tate. He was a little on the hyper side too.

Then there was Bond, by this time I was starting to melt down and had no interest in anymore of this dog-meeting business!

Next was Phoenix--a german shepherd. Phoenix is HUGE and she isn't even full grown yet. As you can see by the picture I'm not all that happy at this point!

And FINALLY, there was Beau. He was another HUGE dog! This picture is of Denise trying to get me to pet Beau. I was mildly cooperative, but not all that happy. At this point I took Denise's elbow and led her to the door to take Beau away. I was done for the day!

At then end of the seven dogs I was TIRED and not happy. I'm not crying here, but I'm just ready to be done! Auntie Noel took me for a walk while Denise and Mom finished talking. So here is where we're at: more visits. Denise wants to see me interact with the different dogs on different days to see what the reaction is and if there's any "ah-ha" bonding. Next time we won't see as many dogs though. So we're headed back up to Brigadoon on Saturday, April 26th.

That's the process up until now. Once we find a perfect match we'll move onto the next phase. What do you think? Is it what you expected? If you have any questions, ask my mom and she can maybe give you answers. Maybe she'll work on a FAQ post--so if you have questions--leave them in the comments section! Sorry this was such a long post. Have a great day!



Sarah E. said...

Such great pictures honey! I am so glad you got to go visit the dogs! IT sounds like it was a long day! I can't wait to see which dog you get to take home!

Dawn said...

WOW!! That sounds like you had a busy day!! Im glad you got to love on the puppies a little and investigate their eyeballs!! :)

Jackie said...

Great pictures of Aaron and the the one where he is just sitting with his eyes covered...he was done you can see it.....

Logan said...

I have to admit that I'm partial to Goldens since I am one! Good luck with your service dog journey Aaron.
Wags and Woofs,

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