Things to think about if you want a puppy for your child:
Diagnosing and treating a child with a disability is a life altering experience for the whole family. As the above chart demonstrates it takes an equal contribution of at least five factors to positively set your child up for the most recovery possible. A service dog is one of the many tools to help ease this experience. A dog like those trained through Project Chance offer not only the child diagnosed on the autism spectrum: a therapeutic benefit, but also that child’s family and community. This therapeutic and positive relationship is crucially important to recognize and encourage.
The placement of a dog with a child enables the child and family to increase their mobility and socialization as a family. These dogs provide a service and should be seen as ONE of the tools used to manage the child’s disability. The dog is not the total answer but can be an intervention and can be therapeutic instrument for family members as well as the child. It is important to recognize, honor, and observe the relationship that the child needs to have with the service dog, since it is the child who will ultimately receive the greatest benefit.
Project Chance offers:
1) The Project Chance Puppy Year: this time starts when the puppy makes the first transition from Dog Leg Productions to the puppy raiser’s home. A unique training relationship building experience begins between the child, their matched puppy and the puppy raiser.
2) An individualized set of goals is evaluated and set in motion for the puppy/child team. The training program includes cognitive exercises, health and safety assessments, and social skill improvements. ADA (Americans with disabilities) training.
3) The introduction, understanding and implementation of the federal ADA (Americans with disabilities act) and state statutes which govern the access to public and private venues is started.
4) A strong support system of puppy raisers, trainers, volunteers, friends and family, to maximize the therapeutic relationship between child and service dog.
5) A realistic set of agendas is mapped out to optimize the dog handling skills and animal husbandry needs of caring for a dog as a pet.
Project Chance pledges:
1) To respect and honor the family's needs.
2) To advocate, through the dog, for improvement in the child's quality of life.
3) To educate the family about state and federal laws concerning the rights, priviledges, and responsibilites of owning a service dog.
All daily or regular dialogue should be by phone rather than email to be sure time is of the essence in decisions for the dog: cancelling an appointment, conditions of the dog's health, and boarding needs (all dogs will be boarded at Dog Leg Productions unless other arrangements have been made with BJ Szwedzinski).
The dog will never be boarded at any other commercial venue or will be crated for any irregular amount of time. We prefer the dog not be watched by a third party in the home. There is a volunteer base of foster grandparents or friends of Project Chance that can help at any time.
All dogs will have a veterinarian relationship. Any medical or behavorial problems will be called into the trainer, BJ or KCJ.
Project Chance Dogs Help Children
These are the different areas that can be tapped.
- Language and communication either vocal, sign, or by creating symbols
- Daily Living/Self -help skills
- Reduction of challenging behaviors and an increase in alternative/replacement behaviors (trainers and puppy raisers will work with therapists the child visits to maximize child's interaction)
- Play and Leisure
- Socialization and Community Integration
- Coping Skills and Self-regulation
6) An on-going relationship between trainers and family, years after placement.
Project Chance Requires
1) An IEP (individualized Educational Plan) or an alike instrument that outlines the current educational/social/cognitive progress from a clinical or educational institution.
2) A physician’s prescription for the service dog.
3) A family consisting of two adults (this may include single parent homes with a caregiver, i.e. nanny, etc.)
4) A signed Project Chance waiver that will give permission for the publication of photos and stories about your child and their dog.
5) A commitment to meet regularly with trainers, puppy raisers and other child/dog teams for social, behavioral, and recreational activities.