Monday, 15 June 2015

A Side of Autism: Dogs

I don't give my dogs enough credit at times and it's not because they don't deserve it but because life with three kids in the household can be pretty hectic most of the time and I finally have something to write about for this blog!
A friend just sent me this video (link via Facebook page) and it shows a tall teenage autistic boy having a meltdown.  For whatever the reason, this young man is super upset - crying, hurting himself - it was hard to watch for the first time because it's what I have in my home but in a 5-year old format.
But I encourage you to watch it because his dog recognized that meltdown and the frustration building up with every slap and that dog worked calmly and flawlessly to calm the young man down and redirect his attention onto themselves (the dog).
Freaking brilliant!  That dog deserves a billion squeaky toys and awesome bones and endless belly rubs.

Now let's talk about the dogs I have.

I have a newly-minted 12-year old ½ Labrador and ½ Border Collie named Blue.
Blue loves food, attention, cuddles and being the boss.
He hates walking in the pouring rain, getting caught doing something wrong (i.e. stealing food) and being put on time out (extremely rare!).
He also love babies - there's nothing more precious than seeing him with a newborn.  He absolutely adores them and loves watching them and sniffing them and gives the sweetest and tiniest kisses possible.
He has been my rock through post-delivery healing after having V-Man (which included 15 stitches and 6-months of difficulty moving around and using the bathroom).

Loki is my 7.5-year old Husky mix.
Loki is named appropriately as he looked like a joker when he came to our home - ginormous paws, scrawny legs, tiny body and could barely walk up and down the stairs because he was more of a tumbler instead.  Instead of being about 40-pounds-ish - he's more like 70.
He also adores babies, usually is the cause of some spontaneous interior designing (aka dig through the garbage when we forget to close the kitchen door), has destroyed several things (list in the PS) and has endless patience with our 3 children.

How do my dogs affect the V-Man?
Blue and V-Man have some sort of strange agreement about sharing the sofa.  Blue will move over so V-Man can sit with him and sometimes he wraps his legs so they hang over Blue's side and sometimes V-Man pets him gently.  V-Man has been learning how to pet and rub the dogs ears and back of their necks and sometimes their backs when he walks in the door.
There hasn't been any sign of aggression between V-Man and either dog.
And yes, occasionally when V-Man is upset - the dogs circle around him or near him to try and distract him and sometimes it works.  Or sometimes V-Man has food in his hands and they're pretending to care. :)

Loki is usually the first one to the door when we walk in.  I've noticed (and have yet been able to capture a photo because my hands are full with a booster seat, keys and his backpack) that V-Man calmly walks inside, takes in his surroundings and trails his fingers along the dog's back while walking down the hall.  Kind of like how one would trail their fingers along piano keys or other familiar surroundings.
Then he goes to see if I have started his favourite movie (or not) and returns to remove his shoes and coat.
That's the first ten seconds of our usual routine when he gets inside.
V-Man has also managed to get over the hurdle of going downstairs and coming back upstairs when going to and from day-care via taxi.
A huge thanks to Loki for that one!  We no longer bring Loki with us to take V-Man to the waiting taxi or to pick him up in the afternoon.

In fact, V-Man seems to want to go hiking but only if the dogs are going.
He just had a tube put inside of his ear (the other one is still secure and they checked - nothing else up his nose!) and when he got home and fed - he wanted to go outside.  But he wouldn't budge out the door until he saw SH pull down the leashes and clip them onto the dogs' collars.
This is a huge improvement, compared to last year where hiking involved a lot of intense screaming and fighting!
He's a super strong kid - so we would like to avoid as much fighting as possible!

For awhile when we were first teaching him to sleep in his bed alone, Loki would curl up at the foot of the bed and the rhythmic breathing - along with the Alphabet game - would help V-Man sleep faster!

Anyway, my exams are finally done and I have a presentation tomorrow and a potluck the following day.
Then summer vacation begins!!  For 6 weeks.
I'll try to pump out as many blog posts as I can - as I do have some quite exciting news for you! (Not pregnant - so let's get that out of the way now.)  And when I start classes again at the end of July - they'll be quite intensive - so I'll be trying hard to make up for all the lost time I had this past semester!


PS Things that Loki has destroyed (mostly) as a puppy:

  • Asthma inhaler Symbicort which contains steroids
  • Cell phone charger - while it was plugged in.  Half his face looked like it was melting.
  • Antique sofa legs (wooden) and respective sofa's cushions.
  • Kong on a Rope toy - he managed to pass that out.
  • Various books - both ours and the university library.
  • Stationary
  • Stuffed toys (not his).
  • Pencils, erasers, pens, purses and shoes
  • The list goes on...

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