Puppy Paws For Colton

Article By: Rebecca Heibein
Article Date: 08/24/2010

Our son, Colton was diagnosed last year with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. He falls on the mild side of the spectrum, and his symptoms seem to be more specific to Asperger’s Syndrome, which falls under the Autism Spectrum.

Colton experiences some degree of all Aperger’s symptoms. In our quest to find new ways to support Colton, we looked into the use of an Autism Service Dog. We contacted a not for profit agency, Autism Dog Services, and arranged for a home visit. The director of this agency, Wade Beattie, came to our house with a 16 month old Golden Retriever, Aspen. He stayed for over an hour with us, and answered all of our questions, and Colton got to know Aspen and feed her treats! At the end of the visit, we decided that an Autism Service Dog would benefit Colton immensely! We submitted or application and we were approved.

The value of one of these dogs is $18,000. A quick breakdown on the $18,000 cost of a dog is as follows:
28% ($5,040) is the basic cost of the dog, food, veterinary costs and fostering a puppy
44% (7,920) is for advanced training of the dog
11% (1,980) is for team training (training the child, the family and the dog to work together)
17% (3,060) is continued support for the dog by Autism Dog Services. They support the family and the dog over its working lifetime.

A service dog will help Colton by:
Improving safety and security at home, in public, and at school.
Prevent Colton from bolting into traffic or other dangerous situations.
Provide independence, allowing Colton to walk holding the dog rather than a parent’s hand.
Lend support and a calming influence to Colton as he copes in highly stressful situations and changes in routine.

Allow greater freedom for our family to participate in outings and activities.
Help improve socialization skills by bridging the gap between Colton and society
Acts as a constant companion, offering unconditional love and friendship.
Help with transitioning and behavior when out in public.

We’ve already been on several outings with the dogs, and have been able to see how life with a dog will be. We’ve been able to walk through the very busy Saturday morning market, which is a place we would avoid given the level of anxiety Colton has in places like this.

For more information on Autism Dog Services, you can visit their website at


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