Tuesday, 4 October 2016, the Rotary Clubs of The Entrance and Wyong met Archie, an Autism Assistance Dog, for the first time since the project was instigated in 2013. Kyle’s mother, Jodi, presented Archie and with Kyle, demonstrated the various commands and handling skills required. Jodi spoke of the difference it has made to their lives, how much safer Kyle is with Archie and how well they are bonding. Archie wears a special harness for his duties, and Kyle walks with his own harness attached to Archie.
Jodi thanked all involved with the project and for raising the funds to make this possible for the family. As a token of thanks, she made a cake topped with a replica of Archie. The full story appears below.
In 2013, The Rotary Club of The Entrance initiated a project to raise at least $18 000 to have a Smart Pup trained to assist Kyle, a little boy with Autism. The money was enthusiastically raised through fundraising events and donations from the community. This is a specialised, long term project where the right dog has to be found and trained for an extensive period. Now there is great excitement as the dog, named ‘Archie’ is soon to be delivered. Young Kyle recently received this letter from Smart Pups Assistance Dogs for Special Needs Children Inc.
My name is Archie and I am a 14 month old black Labrador and the Smart Pup team have chosen me to be your new friend.
We are delighted to introduce Archie, the Smart Pups team have chosen and trained to be an Autism Assistance Dog for Kyle.
Archie is a really lovely, people loving, sensitive fellow which we believe will be a great match for Kyle and your family.
We are looking to place him with you in around 6-8 weeks if all goes to plan. He has completed his training modules and we are confident you will love Archie.
Ella is Archie’s trainer and will be placing him with your family. Ella will be in touch with you soon with more details.”
CEO of Smart Pups Assistance Dogs, Patricia McAlister, says:
“At handover week the Smart Pups trainers will come to your home town and work with you (alternative handler and a second alternative handler if required) from around 10 am -12 pm and again from 1 – 3 pm. We allow four working days to teach you all you need to know to be able to manage and use Archie for the purpose he has been trained, an Autism Assistance Dog, and for you to be accredited with public access with Archie. The first three days we need to work just with the handler/handlers (and not Kyle) so we can teach you the commands and handling of Archie in public.
We then work with Kyle and Archie with the special tasks he has been taught. We can include any special appointments or places you wish to go during that week. We will bring everything that is required, including food for the first week, training lead/collar/jacket/crate and preventative medicine for flea/tick and worms for three months. If you choose, you can pick up a bowl and some Labrador proof toys and a bed or blanket for his crate.
Archie is trained for lap/disrupt/tethering and tracking. He also can do some cool tricks. He can learn to do this with your other child also. We then follow up around six weeks later for any additional help you may need.”
A Handover Guide is also provided as a start to learning about managing the Service Dog, as well as the commands needed.