.

Forsyth County's "A Boy and His Dog"

Man's best friend is a bridge for autistic children.

Josh and Laraleigh Forester have a snake, a fish and four amazing children under the age of six. As you can imagine there is never a dull moment in the Forester home. Although they have a full house they are looking to add one more to their brood. A dog. Not just any dog, an autism service dog.

Their second child, Luceas was diagnosed with autism in September of 2010. Although the diagnosis wasn't a surprise, the label brings with it a weight. Josh and Laraleigh found themselves saddled with the decision on how to move forward with treatment. Not to mention, how to fund the cost of recommended therapies.

Luceas is turning five September 30 and he is cognitively on the same level as a two year old. His very trusting nature, the inability to answer to his name and his tendency to wander can potentially put him in some dangerous situations.

"We had a friend suggest to us that we should get a dog, and it was more of a 'Lassie' mentality," says Laraleigh.

The light hearted suggestion triggered some research and they stumbled across a family with an autism service dog. After several e-mail exchanges with the family singing their dog's praises the Forester family began to seriously consider an autism service dog as a viable option for Luceas.

An autism service dog can range in price from $10,000 to $17,000 and it takes 12 to 18 months to train a dog and place it with a family. Not every family affected by autism can benefit from a service dog and the screening process although extensive is necessary.

September 1, a year after Luceas' diagnosis, Josh and Laraleigh launched a fundraising campaign entitled, "A Boy and His Dog." Their goal is to raise $10,000 to help fund the expense of an autism service dog for Luceas. Their hope is the campaign will be successful enough they can repeat it again next year and help another family. They want to pass it along and help other local families that can benefit from a service dog.

According to Assistance Dogs for Autism there are several benefits of having an autism assistance dog including:

  • Increase social interaction
  • Redirecting repetitive behaviors
  • Improving independence
  • Increased vocabulary
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Overall calming ability
  • Recovering children quickly

Laraleigh confesses, “The emotional mommy side of me says, I just want Luceas to have a friend that he doesn’t have to talk to, because he is non-verbal, but at the same time the safety issue is really big.”  

At this time there is nowhere in Georgia to get an autism service dog. The Forester's have turned to Wilderwood in Maryville, Tennessee to help them with their special needs. Laraleigh hopes their charity can raise enough money to partner Wilderwood with Canine Assistants in Milton, allowing Georgia families local access to autism service dogs.

Friday, September 30 there will be a family fundraising event at Catch Air. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and 30 percent of admission and pizza sales are being donated to "A Boy and His Dog." In addition, there will be a silent auction to support the cause.

Follow them on facebook or visit their Web site for additional information.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something