Kate & NSD Oakley – Certified Service Dog for Autism Team

When your child receives a diagnosis of Autism, your world spins. Your mind tries desperately to manage emotions so intense you wonder if you’ll ever make it through. All our lives we have realized that it is dogs, without ego or fear of failure, who are the most superior of friends. It is this friendship that we wanted for Kate. Whether it be the loyalty that keeps Kate safe in a world so difficult to navigate or whether it be Oakley’s deep pressure “visits” that make her feel calm.

A dog, like a parent, will love a child more than it loves itself. It is for this reason these dogs are the only therapy suitable to live in our world, day and night, year after year. NSD Oakley “Long Legs” has bounded into our hearts in a big way. It is a big success story that’s just beginning and we owe it all to the staff, volunteers and supporters at National Service Dogs. Thank you!

Kate's Mom on the bond between her daughter and her Certified Service Dog, NSD Oakley

Jim & NSD Sookie – Certified Service Dog for Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) Team

I will start off by saying that this almost-human creature constantly amazes me with her intelligence. Sookie learns and adapts immediately to each-and-every demand or new situation. As may become apparent, she is much more than a service dog, she is a true friend and companion. At times when I slip deeper into depression, she senses it and comes to me, placing her head on my lap. She will not leave until she knows that my spirit has been lifted by her mere presence. She will wake me when I am experiencing “a bad dream”. She stands between myself and anyone nearing me and keeps them at bay, such as in a grocery check-out line. She will lead when we are in a crowded place and by doing so, she divides the crowd, diverting them farther away from me. By her presence, she ‘grounds’ me in that while we are in public places I must attend to her. My attention, to some degree must always be directed to her and therefore distracting me from those things that trigger the onset or the heightening of my PTSD symptoms.
Jim on receiving his Certified Service Dog, NSD Sookie

Madison & NSD Flo – Canine Assisted Intervention (CAI) Team

There are so many stories – I could write a book. A recent one is of a younger older adult post-stroke whom I’ve been working with on higher levels of ambulation. Although not previously a fan of dogs, this woman LOVES Flo. One of our biggest challenges recently is increasing confidence and perception to get this client to look up while she walks (in order to be functional in the community). The most simple thing of having Flo on a trail with us got this client engaged in her surroundings enough to keep her eyes off her feet for the majority of our walk. She continually exclaimed “Oh I just love watching Flo”. By the end of our walk, she learned she CAN look up while she walks without falling and we have seen a shift in her confidence. Our past two sessions she is now willing to look up and around while we walk rather than the refusal and fear we had a month ago. This is so important as it allows her to respond to her environment and will make community ambulation safer and attainable. I’d encourage therapists to start integrating CAI into their therapy. I’d encourage therapists to be creative.
Madison, Kinesiologist on Flow's impact on patients