In this Smart Pups story, we meet Valli and her autistic daughter Akira, and their adorable Smart Pups Assistance Dog Jagger, who is trained to help Akira with her autism and seizures to enhance her quality of life.
Children with autism can feel safer, calmer and more understood through their bond with a Smart Pups Assistance Dog. They can increase an autistic child’s ability to cope with life, ease sensory overload and provide emotional support.
As we see in our story, a Smart Pup like Jagger can acts as a bridge between a child like Akira and the outside world; guiding them through their daily routine, keeping them safe and comforting them when the world just gets too much.
Smart Pups are also trained to assist with post-seizure recovery by providing comfort and support to their child to lean on when experiencing post-seizure frailty. Some of these dogs can even predict oncoming seizures up to 20 minutes beforehand, and alert a guardian adult.
Smart Pups is an Australian Charity based on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, though they do provide dogs nationally to children in need. They also provide medical alert dogs, including Diabetic Alert Smart Pups that are trained to smell the chemical body changes that occur as insulin levels increase or drop; Mobility and Vision Assistance dogs that help a child walk using a guide dog harness on their assistance dog to navigate their environment, and do other task-specific skills according to the needs of each child.
In addition to the alert work, these dogs provide a measure of comfort for the child, increased self-esteem and confidence, a distraction during unpleasant medical procedures, and of course companionship.
Smart Pups Assistance Dogs are specially bred and selected Labradors and Golden Retrievers, whilst some Groodles and Labradoodles are also in the mix for children with allergies. We meet a few of them in this segment, proudly sponsored by Big Dog Pet Foods, who also provided the funding Valli and Akira desperately needed to purchase Jagger.
It is a beautiful story of companionship and demonstrates just how amazing and smart dogs are. We hope you enjoy the story and if you would like to find out more about the work of Smart Pups and how you can help, visit www.smartpups.org.au
About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog training, minding and walking business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.