Our goals for this program are lofty as our "canine candidates" are rescued from local shelters and our goal is to train the dogs to become working partners for children afflicted with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Our selection criteria is very stringent and focuses on temperament as not all dogs are suited for "a life of service," regardless of their breeding heritage or social background.
The training program consists of an 8-week of Basic Obedience training curriculum followed by an Advanced Training Program which typically lasts between 4 to 6+ months. The duration of the Advanced Training programs depends on the special tasks the dog needs to learn for their intended “working partner.” If, during any part of the program, we determine a dog would prefer to be a loving family pet instead of a working service dog, we “respect their wishes” and find loving adopters for these special dogs.
Dogs that are selected for the Advanced Training Program must pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen exam, possess a gentle demeanor and have the ability to remain calm during stressful situations. They also learn some pretty amazing behaviors/specialized skills to help autistic children and their families. Considering their life’s journey, our canine graduates are truly an elite group of “shelter dog heroes!”
Training a dog for a life of service is a daunting responsibility. The inmates in our program are committed to giving back to the community by volunteering to participate in this special, and demanding training program. Their collective efforts have made a significant difference in the lives of the shelter dogs who just needed a second chance and the families who are truly grateful for their dedication and training prowess.