Ten-year-old Luke loves slobbery dog kisses, which Autism Assistance Dog Serenity is happy to provide.
Serenity joined Luke’s family home in Portland a year ago. Luke’s mom, Stephanie, learned about DBL from a flyer in an occupational therapy office. Knowing how much Luke loved dogs, Stephanie and her husband, Chad, applied to DBL.
It took three years of patient waiting, but then Serenity arrived and lived up to her name.
“Serenity is an amazing black Labrador, so calm and the joy of our entire family,” Stephanie says. “She meets my every expectation for Luke. What I wasn’t expecting was how great she is for our entire family. I’d never had a pet in my entire life and my daughter, Addalyn, was nervous around dogs. But we are all so in love with her now and she is the most well-mannered, sweetest thing.”
Stephanie says Serenity’s best command for Luke is “lap.” She will rest on his lap and ground him, giving him the sensory input he desires. Her favorite game is chase, and she sleeps on the bottom bunk in Luke’s room at night. Every morning, they all go for a walk to help calm some of the anxiety of facing a new day at school.
Before Serenity, Luke would resist going out for walks. Now, he understands that Serenity needs to walk, and cooperates with the routine.
“When we go to school and he’s nervous, she’s in the backseat, and he’s petting her the entire way,” Stephanie says. “We will park and walk with Serenity to the building. Luke struggles socially, so Serenity’s presence is an instant way to connect with others. She is such a blessing.”
Autism Assistance Dogs are specially trained to enhance the safety and well-being of children and families living with Autism by providing a minimum of three tasks to assist with keeping children grounded and focused while presenting a social bridge for relationships and friendships. Learn more about Autism Assistance Dogs and apply to receive a dog: dogsforbetterlives.org/autism-dogs