Isaac loves to be on the move, but his quick feet and bolting tendencies had his mother, Celia, looking for other options to help keep him safe in public. When her doctor shared a packet of resources, one of which was about Can Do Canines, Celia applied for an Autism Assist Dog for Isaac in September 2017. While on the waitlist, the family experienced some challenging situations. When Isaac was 3 years old, he ran away and his family finally found him under a car, looking at his reflection on the chrome bumper. The fear of Isaac bolting in public made running errands very stressful, and family outings nearly impossible. One quick look away to pay at the cash register or to unlock the car would be just enough time for Isaac to run.
In 2021, Isaac found his match in a playful and cuddly black Lab, Boris. With Boris serving as a tethered link between Isaac and Celia, he makes going out in public an entirely new experience. Celia shares, “I don't have to worry because he's tethered to Boris. It seems small, but it's a really huge relief to know my child is not going to get hit by a car just doing everyday, normal things.” Boris also helps with Isaac’s meltdowns in crowded places. “We had maybe a five-minute window before Isaac would be on the floor crying.” They can now take Boris with them and walk around the entire store.
Isaac is more motivated to get in the car with Boris around too, which makes new activities outside of the home an option. Isaac, now 7 years old, enjoys car rides up to Duluth to look at ships in Canal Park, rides at theme parks and swimming. Celia is looking forward to the summer months and shares, “In the past summers, we've had to primarily stay inside because we don't have a fenced yard.”
Boris has an important role to play while at home as well. When Isaac is decompressing in his room, Boris cuddles up with him and burrows under blankets. Boris even gets a front-row seat to one of Isaac’s favorite activities—watching YouTube videos of trains and elevators. Whenever Boris hears the train horn or elevator beep, he darts upstairs as fast as he can to get in bed with Isaac. Celia shares, “I feel like he's a great companion for Isaac. Nobody else wants to sit and watch trains for hours or elevators on YouTube, you know?”
When asked what she would share with all of the people who made Boris possible, Celia said, “I'm really, really grateful for the time and the resources that they've put into training Boris. We went from being a family that's stuck inside to a family that’s able to go and be a part of family functions. We're able to go out in the community and do so safely.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Frank Barger
Puppy Raiser: Federal Correctional Institution - Waseca
Special Thanks: Hannah and Brandon Schmidt