Some of you may remember that our 12-year-old golden retriever, Hunter, died in January. It was quite traumatic for the whole family.
However, I never really realized what a fixture in our family he must have been to Seth. He was obviously just there from the beginning to Seth. He was older, so he didn't "play" much. He was really just a big, ol' lap dog, just wanting to be with us and lie on us! We really only used the leash on him when we were in public (for other peoples' sakes), as he would just stay with us wherever we went.
After Hunter died, we briefly talked about the idea of raising the money for an autism-trained therapy dog for Seth. And I do mean briefly. The dogs can cost up to $15,000. They cost so much because they choose and train each dog according to the specific issues that each autistic child struggles with along with their personality traits. The benefits we've read about are amazing and would be awesome for his emotional and sensory issues, but the fundraising would be rigorous. It would take a huge, whole-family committment for nearly a year - and honestly, I'm not sure this family is up to it at this point. We're dealing with a lot right now, and adding something monumental like that would probably stretch us entirely too thin. I'm sad to say (for Seth) that I don't think we could do it. And we obviously don't have the money to pay for something like that outright.
What is interesting, though, is that now that we have Heidi, Seth is reacting to her in a way I hadn't anticipated, or really even much thought about. He is playing with her, loving on her, taking her for walks (since she's so little, he can handle her with no effort), and generally really paying attention to her and her personality. She is engaging him.
Now, she's no therapy dog, mind you. But she is providing something for him that is affecting him in a positive way. I hope it's not just the novelty of a new dog. But if it is, well, we'll take what we can get!