Our Prospect ;)
We're training a 4 month old GSD in home , under supervision of a service dog trainer . We *hope* in 6 months or so he cuts the mustard to be SDIT. Our 5 year old son has autism. The pup has a lot of potential and she(trainer) likes what she sees so far , but they go through many stages. We are just keeping fingers crossed. There is a 2 year wait list for any local agencies..acquiring a certified ready to work dog from a private outfit is a "minimum" of 15K .
My 5 year old son is a eloping risk ..not a bolting risk. Big difference. I do not agree with using a large dog as an anchor for a child that bolts..if my son was a "dash with all your might risk" , I would tether him top me before I subjected a dog to that...but , GSDs can do a good job at alerting at a child who is wandering. And herding around them until I respond to their alert. My son is a slow sneak away.
I have 3 kids 6 , 5 , 2. Even with typical kids it is hard to go someplace with all 3 that age and watch them constantly. Add to that a boy who tries with all his might to silently slip away and explore the minute you are digging in a bag for a sippy for another kid..you get the idea.
We have a Mastiff that my son loves. He can be full on meltdown ( which , people who have kids with autism know a meltdown is different than a tantrum) and when Greta the Mastiff walks in on the commotion to see what is up he goes over and hugs her and calms down. He is never aggressive towards animals or his little brother. The Mastiff gives him a level of comfort that is sometimes achievable by me , but few others. She is the reason we started thinking service dog.
We are hoping if he makes candidate he will learn to alert if my son is sneaking away, circle our son while alerting , scent work , nudge him to redirect , and provide comfort and companionship. If he does not make candidate , well..we will have a well trained dog we love .
What else can you do when you don't have 2 years to wait or 30,000 bucks for a dog? You try your best with a well known experienced service dog trainer , follow all the instructions and lessons , and you keep an open mind and realize he may only make pet grade. You have to be willing to be happy with that , and we are.
I have had 4 German Shepherds in my 43 years..we home trained all 4 and did CGC with them. 3 of them I trained myself ( I was 14 when we got our 2nd GSD) My Jack Russel..she was the first dog that made me seek professional help lol . We trained with her for 2 years , did some fun agility . So , I have experience rearing pups and doing structured training with passing CGC in mind. We'll be working very closely with the trainer . We 'll be doing private lessons , Puppy Kindergarten , Intermediate , CGC..then we'll see if he makes it into SDIT.
Wish us luck , any advice/constructive criticism is welcome.
Right now we are doing basic obedience and it is going great. We are also doing hide and seek. My son hides with a treat and I go with the pup to "find him" . He loves it , my son loves it. Again , fingers crossed!