* IT’S A DOG’S WORLD by Ashley Howland
Posted by loiswstern
Obi was the cutest, most independent puppy you have ever met; too confident for his own good and too smart for us. From day one it was clear he was a special boy who needed to be shared with the world. I started taking him to school as part of my reward system to promote respectful behaviour across the school. It worked beautifully. The kids worked hard to get Obi to come in and on those days there was an amazing calm across the whole school. Obi was part of the reasoning behind Labs ‘n Life.
Obi, the super pup
Labs ‘n Life is a not for profit organization that works with at risk youth, to train companion dogs for children on the autism spectrum. These students learn how to train their dogs to assist children through specific skills including anchoring (preventing the child from running away), pressing alarms, compression (calming), opening doors, finding things (including the child) and some games. Our dogs learn to play fetch, hide and seek and will even jump on the trampoline. Basically the older students train the dog to be a best friend for the child on the autism spectrum.
During its five years of operation Labs ‘n Life has engaged some of the most severely disadvantaged youth across South Australia. We are now in the process of spreading our programs across Australia.
Labs ‘n Life has also assisted families with children on the autism spectrum. The placements of Dukee, Finn, Charlie and Striker have made an amazing transformation to these families. Currently Tug, Tramp and Scrooge are in training with their identified families. Our puppies, Cobalt and Daintree, have begun their training within the Labs ‘n Life program. More puppies will begin training in 2013.
Young people training their assigned dogs
Our companion dogs are unique because they are trained by young people for young people. We also have core dogs that remain in the program. These are often on display at dog shows (handled by their students) and used as demo dogs in various locations. Our students show immense pride in the training of their dogs and a real empathy for the people in the community they assist. These students achieve amazing outcomes every day, all because they work with dogs like Obi.
Obi recently celebrated his tenth birthday. He still comes out to work, but is not trained anymore. He now does the training. students and dogs alike, he is the master of all he meets. No one can possibly look at Obi and not smile. He is the clown, the smart dog, the friend, the cuddler, and the ear to listen. Obi makes people smile every day. It is an honour to own him and share him with the world.
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