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A 14-year old, Drew Castle, and his goldendoodle, Buddy, are the best of buddies. But their bond goes far beyond that.
Drew has autism, and this faithful friend is able to help him overcome challenges in a way no one else can.
Drew’s mother, Deb Castle, said that when Drew was diagnosed with autism, getting a dog was not the first thing on her mind. But then the family discovered a non-profit organization called North Star Foundation in Connecticut, which helps match assistance dogs with children who have autism, so they decided to try it.
Drew’s mother said that after years of therapy, Buddy made a sudden difference in Drew’s life; even his younger brother, Ben, noticed it.
“It’s just made him overall happier and better,” he said.
Buddy was carefully selected for this job by the North Star Foundation, which specifically breeds dogs to work with children or selects dogs from a short list of breeders. The dogs are trained for 10 months before being partnered with a child.
Dog trainer, Jenn Lamagro, said these special dogs send a soothing message to the children they work with.
“Their demeanor and their energy is just such a calming source to them,” Lamagro said. “That’s the magic these dogs have on children with autism.”
The Castles can attest to the magic: after four years of unconditional love and companionship, Buddy has given Drew confidence and a sense of well-being. He also helps Drew interact with others.
“It kind of becomes a conversation starter,” Drew’s father, Andrew Castle, said, “whereas they wouldn’t ordinarily approach Drew, or might suddenly be put off by him because he’s a little different. But when they see Buddy, it’s a door opener.”
“Drew doesn’t have a best friend like every other child,” Drew’s mother said, “Buddy is his best friend. He can’t wait to get home and tell him all about his day, tell him something exciting that happened at school; so he has definitely changed his life.”
- Children With Autism May Benefit From Interaction With Therapy Dogs (medicalnewstoday.com)