Dogs are known as man’s best friend, and one Santa Clarita family is raising money to give their autistic son a special companion of his own.
Rob and Faye Kayne created a website called 4 Paws for Charlie are trying to raise funds so their 12-year-old son Charlie can receive a specially trained autistic service dog from the nonprofit organization4 Paws for Ability.
The organization trains dogs from when they are puppies to meet the needs of a specific individual.
For Charlie, who has autism and severe apraxia, a specially trained dog can serve as a means of socialization, negative behavior disruption, safety and tracking Charlie if he becomes lost, Faye Kayne said.
Apraxia is a neurological disorder in which the person has difficulties pronouncing words, according to WebMD.
The organization would pick a specific puppy for Charlie’s purposes, Faye Kayne said. The Kayne family will send in hours of video about Charlie’s high points, meltdowns and routines so the dog’s training will be tailored to Charlie’s needs.
“Charlie gets anxious when routines change or we go to strange place,” Faye Kayne said. “With the service dog, Charlie would be calmer.”
The service dog will be trained to kiss Charlie or provide deep pressure to stop unwanted behaviors or meltdowns by commands given by his parents, Faye Kayne said. Charlie can be tethered to his service dog to prevent him from wandering into traffic when he is outside as well as track Charlie’s scent if he gets lost.
Charlie also has a difficult time sleeping at night and often wants to play instead of go to sleep, Faye Kayne said. The service dog will sleep in Charlie’s room and help calm him down so that he and the rest of his family, including his 7-year-old brother Ben, can get a good nights sleep.
“We feel that this is something that will just change his life and be positive for him. He works so hard every day and anything we can do to help him and our family will be very worthwhile,” Faye Kayne said. “In the last few years, Charlie has gravitated towards dogs especially to service or therapy dogs.”
The family is trying to raise $14,000 for the organization by the end of this year. After the money is raised, it will take about a year to train the puppy.
“By involving the families and raising funds, the wait time (to recieve the dog) is a lot shorter than if we went to another organizaion who raised the funds on their own,” Faye Kayne said. “Some organizations have up to a 5 year waiting period but with us working to raise funds, the wait time will be a lot shorter.”
The Kayne family will travel to Ohio for two weeks toward the end of the dog’s training to learn the various commands and let the dog become familiar with Charlie’s scent.
“Just having Charlie be able have the companionship. He doesn’t have what typical kids would have as friends,” Faye Kayne said. “We’re hoping a playmate and companionship for Charlie will help.”