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I think all of us, who have dogs, know that our dogs innately understand our feelings. So if we come home, and we're feeling great, the dog instinctively picks up—You feel great. That means you're gonna play with me. And if we're feeling less than great, and especially if we're feeling down and depressed, the dog will feel, You're looking a bit low. I think I'll just come over quietly and sit down beside you.


So they can pick up our feelings and emotions. What that means is that there's mute communication between the two species. You don't have to articulate in words the way you and I have to talk about things. Dog will understand how we feel, because it just picks up something about our body language.


Nowhere is this more important than with service or assistance dogs.


Unlike other service dog and guide dog providers, when you're dealing with autism, you need dogs that are very, very calm, very quiet, very laid-back. So we, over the last sixteen years, have been working towards breeding really calm, very relaxed, easygoing dogs.


Chester joined our family six weeks ago. And he's from National Service Dogs, so he is officially NSD Chester. He is two and a half years old, and he's a lab retriever mix. Max was diagnosed with autism at the age of thirty-two months. When we got Chester, one of the first things I really look forward to doing with Max was going for a walk. Because at the age of six, I've never really been able to go for walk with Max; because what he does, like many children with autism, is he bores. So, for him, it's a very fun game to run away from you. With Chester's vest that he wears, he has a hookup, and there's a handle that Max holds on to.

Chester 在六星期前加入我们的家庭。而他是来自全国服务犬协会,所以它是正式的 NSD Chester。它两岁半,而它是只混种拉不拉多犬(注一)。Max 在三十二个月大时被诊断出自闭症。当我们得到 Chester 时,我非常期待和 Max 一起做的首要事之一是去散个步。因为从他六岁起,我就从没真正能和 Max 一起散步过;因为他做的事,就像许多有自闭症的孩子一样,是他觉得无趣。所以,对他来说,从你身边跑走就是个非常好玩的游戏。有了 Chester 穿着的背心, 它有一条狗鍊,而那有一个 Max 可以握住的把手。

So the first time we went out for a walk by ourselves, Chester was an all-star, and Max was just so thrilled to be out with his dog. He never dropped the handle once. One other thing that Max does to cope—when he's frustrated, or express his frustration—is to strike out. And, you know, it's hard, you know, to have your child striking you. We brought Chester home, and that aggression and frustration just disappeared. Now that we have Chester here for six weeks, and Max has stopped.

我们第一次自己出去散步时,Chester 像是个大明星,而 Max 就是超级兴奋能和他的狗一起出去。他从未扔下把手一次过。另一个 Max 处理事情会做的事是--当他感到挫折,或表达他的沮丧时--是他会用力打。而且,你知道,这很难受,你要知道,让你自己的孩子打着你。我们把 Chester 带回家,而那种攻击性和挫折感就消失了。而今我们有 Chester 在这六星期了,Max 就停下来了。

Do they still have outbursts? Yes, but there are fewer. They're less intense, and they die down faster. Many of the dogs, once they're bonded with their kids, will anticipate those anxiety levels building.


Chester sleeps with him. And since Chester came home, you know, we don't get outburst in the middle of the night anymore. So Max stays in his bed, and he's got Chester there. Now that he has Chester, he doesn't call out. He might be awake. I don't know, because I am asleep, which is fantastic. And I don't really...I don't worry about Max, because I know that Chester is in there. I didn't really understand what a blessing Chester would be to a family, and not just to Max, but, you know, he very much is a healing balm for a family.

Chester 和他一起睡。而且自从 Chester 来家里后,你知道,我们不再在大半夜碰到情绪失控的状况。Max 待在他的床上,而他有 Chester 陪着。现在因为他有 Chester,他就不大叫了。他可能醒来。我不知道,因为我睡着了,那真是太好了。而我不完全...我不担心 Max,因为我知道 Chester 在那里面。我那时并未真正了解 Chester 对一个家庭来说会是一份多大的福气,而且不只是对 Max,而是,你知道,他算是一个家庭的疗愈慰藉物。

Over the last sixteen, seventeen years, we focused on our autism program, and have recently expanded out to train dogs for individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder, specifically veterans. And we're developing a new program that will put Canine Assisted Intervention dogs into facilities, partnered with doctors, physicians, therapists, so that they can use fully trained service dogs in helping all of their patients, or a collection of their patients in various forms of...whether it's addiction therapy, mental health issues, behavioral issues, and...so that will expand out the role of our dogs in the coming year.


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