Johnnie loves the park. He loves swimming in the nearby river and playing with the other dogs. But unlike all his doggie friends, when he goes home, Johnnie knows he has an important job to do.
Anna’s eight-year-old son Harrison has Autism. And Johnnie is his Autism Assistance Dog.
Anna says something special happens when Johnnie wears his vest… it’s like he’s a superhero!
“He has two personalities actually, his working personality and his at-home personality. When he wears the vest, it switches him completely.”
Thank you for helping us train superheroes like Johnnie. So more families can have Autism Assistance Dogs or Guide Dogs to give them the confidence they need… to live the life of freedom they deserve.
Because life before Johnnie was full of limitations for Harrison and his family.
“We used to go out a lot as a family with the three girls. But when Harrison was born – especially after he was diagnosed with Autism – that changed.”
Harrison doesn’t have a good sense of danger. And because he’s non-verbal, it’s a struggle for Anna and her husband Harry, to explain the idea of safety to him.
“I had no confidence at all to take him to parks, even to go out as a family.”
If you were Anna, imagine the fear you would feel in the outside world, every time you lost sight of your little boy. Think of the stress and anxiety that even the smallest of outings would have the power to bring on!
With little other option, Anna and Harry chose to make their family’s world smaller… so Harrison’s life could be safer. And that meant their three daughters missed out too.
“When they were younger, they used to have a lot of school activities as well as swimming and ballet. All that just stopped when Harrison was diagnosed.”
But that was before superhero Johnnie was in the picture!
Your generosity is so appreciated. Because it helps to train the next superhero! And whether it’s a Guide Dog or an Autism Assistance Dog for a little boy like Harrison… these special bonds can translate to freedom for a whole family.
Today Johnnie walks with Harrison to school and accompanies him on excursions and family outings. Anna says his presence does more than keep Harrison calm.
“I have more confidence to bring Harrison out knowing that Johnnie will be there with him. And because of that, the girls’ lives – along with Harrison’s – have changed for the better.”
Now Anna’s children have the childhood that Anna has always wanted for them. Her daughters can go out with their friends on the weekends, have sleepovers and take part in extracurricular activities.
And Harrison gets to spend more time outdoors (which he loves) and also experience new things. It’s no wonder that Anna thinks of Johnnie as a superhero!
But best of all, with Johnnie’s help, Anna says a miracle has taken place!
Because he’s non-verbal, Harrison uses a device to communicate. But at the beginning of this year, Harrison spoke his first words out loud… to Johnnie: his loyal Autism Assistance Dog.
“In the beginning, Harrison would use his device to tell Johnnie, ‘Go eat.’ Then one day he said verbally, ‘Go eat’. It was a miracle!”
That was the first time Anna ever heard her little boy speak. She’d waited eight years to hear his sweet voice… and she will never tire of hearing him speak that command to Johnnie.
“I thought that Johnnie would help just with the dangerous situations, but he’s helped our family with so much more. It’s also Harrison’s personal development. It’s lifestyle for Harrison, and the girls, and us as a family.”
Heroic acts are not always stunning feats of bravery. Every day Johnnie does what he is trained to do, Anna thinks of him as a superhero. Because Johnnie is helping his family to live in freedom.
Please donate today to help a family like Harrison’s. Your generosity will help turn their dreams of confidence and freedom into a reality!