We're about to welcome a new family member.
This one has been 11 months in the making, and felt simultaneously endless and like it went by in the blink of an eye.
Clearly, I am not pregnant, as I happily do not suffer the gestational period of horses.
When we got our diagnosis, one of the first places we turned to was Autism Calgary, and their executive director talked to us about service dogs. How life changing it had been for his family. I had seen information about Autism Service Dogs online but wasn't completely sure about their benefits, until we had a chance to talk to someone with firsthand knowledge. Then I was sold. Convinced. Noel needed one. Right. Now.
Of course, very little in life comes to us instantly, so we first applied with an agency here in Alberta which places dogs, free of charge. But the wait list was 2 years long. I couldn't see myself waiting two years, and more importantly, I felt that Noel couldn't wait two years, either. So we continued to search for an alternative, and found it, with 4 Paws for Ability. In January of this year, our application was accepted and we started what at first seemed like an insurmountable task: raising the money required to start the training process for a dog of our own.
The amazing thing? Our community, our family and friends, neighbours, local businesses and Noel's school rallied up around us, and by July we were finished our fundraising. At first I was worried, about putting my family out there, so public, so exposed, telling Noel's story and asking for donations, but looking back, I think it helped me come to terms with many things that I was still struggling with in regards to our diagnosis. Telling our world that Noel has Asperger's, and having those people respond with open hearts, helped me to see things that sometimes I was missing.
I'm so excited to meet Noel's new partner. I'm excited to watch the bond between them grow, to see his independence increase. I am eager for him to have a friend he can always confide in, a friend who can track him down if he disappears in a crowd, who can stop him before he darts out into the street, who can help him find the centre when he feels it slipping away from him. Selfishly, I'm eager for an outward, visual clue that Noel's needs are different than the needs of other children, and so his meltdown is not just him being a brat.
I know the adjustment period won't be easy, but I'm so ready. I know that adding a dog is similar to adding another child, and I can honestly say I'm not looking forward to dealing with the poop of one more living thing. But even if this dog does nothing for Noel but make him smile more, it will be worth it. And I have a feeling she'll do a lot more good than that.
Stephanie O is too busy to think, let alone blog, but she somtimes does that here