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A Service Dog for Eowyn

Organized by: Morghan Eckenfels

Morghan's Photo

THE STORY:

Eowyn is a beautiful, brilliant, free spirited 5 year old girl. Eowyn also has Autism.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.

What does this mean for Eowyn? Eowyn is essentially non verbal. She can say a few words such as more, apple, dog, and thank you. She can count to ten and name a few colors, but she cannot tell you her name, where she lives or who her parents are.

She cannot ask for help.

She does not understand danger .

She has poor impulse control. If she wants to go outside and play. she will run outside, even into the middle of a busy road, and not understand the potential danger to herself. If she wants to swim, she will jump right in, not realizing how deep the water may be or that she could drown.

She wants to play with and interact with other children, but doesn't know how. She misses the social cues that the rest of us pick up on easily and without trying.

She has sensory issues. Sounds, lights, and touches that wouldn't bother us, are downright painful to her. When she is overstimulated by her surroundings, or frustrated because she cannot communicate her needs and wants, she will bite her hand. Sometimes to the point of breaking the skin. She may also have a "meltdown" which to others may look like a tantrum. The difference is it is not caused by her not getting her way. It is the result of either overstimulation or the inability to communicate.

What is an "Autism Service Dog" and how can it help Eowyn?

An Autism Service Dog is a dog trained in specific tasks to assist a person with Autism. Such as...

BOLTING: One common thing that many Autism Service Dogs do is offer peace of mind for children and their families by keeping a child tethered in public places. Often the child is tethered to the dog and the parent/handler holds the dog’s leash. This usually fosters a new found sense of independence and empowerment for the child. Just having two hands free to conduct mundane activities like paying for groceries, or holding a purse is a new found luxury for the caregivers/parents.

WANDERING: Some Autism Service Dogs are trained to hold or retrieve a child who wanders or runs away. They can also be trained to track and find a lost child.

PICA: Some children with Autism Spectrum Disorders eat things that they should not, such as: dirt, clay, chalk, feces, sand, crayons, pencils, etc. Autism Service Dogs can be trained to halt this undesirable behavior.

SELF HARMING: Many individuals on the Autism Spectrum do various self injurious behaviors such as: scratching, biting, head banging, etc. A service dog can be trained to halt or divert this behavior.

FIRE SAFETY: When a smoke detector activates, a dog may be trained to lead the child to the front door or fire exit.

ANXIETY/MELTDOWNS/AGITATION/SENSORY OVERLOAD/NIGHTMARES: Most people on the Autism Spectrum Disorder experience various anxiety manifestations such as outbursts, tantrums, or screaming. An Autism Service Dog can be trained to crawl into the lap of the child or to nudge and redirect or even to give deep pressure or affection to halt the behavior. This often assists the child in all areas of their lives including academics and socialization.

SNEAKING/ESCAPING: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders are commonly very adept at escaping their homes or sneaking away from their safe environments. Their service dog may be trained to bark or alert a caregiver or parent. This can provide a peace of mind and quality of sleep for the entire family that was not previously possible.

STIMMING: Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders engage in various self-stimulating behaviors including: hand flapping, spinning, rocking, making repetitive vocal sounds, or unusual finger movements. An Autism Service Dog may be trained to halt or divert these behaviors as well.

GLUTEN SNIFFING: Autism Service Dogs can even be trained to sniff out gluten for individuals with gluten sensitivities.

LOVE/WARMTH/SECURITY: Often the need for love, warmth and security are paramount for a child on the Autism Spectrum. While all children needs these things, the “neediness” of these individuals is often so intense that it becomes nearly impossible for parents to satisfy all of the child’s’ needs in these areas. Many children who formerly required their parents’ constant attention or who viewed a parent as a “security item or transitional object” no longer are as dependent with the aid of a service dog. The service dog may provide the emotional and physical support needed for more independent sleep, bathing, dressing, waiting in lines, taking of transportation (school buses, subways, buses, vans, airplanes, shuttles, cars, boats, ferries) and a multitude of other activities that caused stress or required a person or object to offer support in the past.

This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list of every skill that Eowyn's Autism Service Dog can or will be trained to perform.

We have seen many times how a dog can have an incredibly calming and centering effect on Eowyn, and we are convinced the right dog with the right training will greatly improve the quality of Eowyn's life.

Someone has graciously donated a German Shepherd puppy to be trained as a service dog for Eowyn. Jessica with Carolina Quality Dog Training in Concord, NC will be training the puppy.
The total cost is $4,000. We have to put $600.00 down, then pay $150.00 a month. Jessica will travel to our house 3 times a week to assist in training the puppy.

Most service dog trainers charge $7,500-$10,000. Non profit service dog organizations charge $10,000-$25,000 for an Autism Service Dog. Obviously we are getting an awesome deal! Plus the benefit of the puppy living with us and bonding with Eowyn during training.

While $4,000 is a great deal, it is still a lot of money. We cannot do this alone. We need your help. If you feel led, please donate. If you cannot donate, please share our fundraiser with your friends and family.

Thank you!!

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Organized by

Morghan Eckenfels

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