Walking With Drake

One Mother's perspective on autism.

Not just a dog, a blessing

I've often heard people say they wish God would speak to them verbally to let them know what path to take or help them with some huge decision.  I'll admit, there have been times when that would have been useful.  However, there have been many times in my life when I received the answers I needed and I just knew it was by His hand.

Last summer I started thinking about getting a service dog for Drake. It was a tough decision to make, not only because of the time and money involved, but also because Drake did not have any interest in dogs.  I wanted a service dog mainly to give Drake constant companionship and help him feel more secure.  Drake being non-verbal makes me more anxious as a parent and I hoped I would have peace of mind knowing Drake always had an extra pair of eyes on him. He also has anxiety about new or different situations, so my thinking was that a dog could alleviate some of this anxiety.  I also heard and read countless stories of service dogs helping autistic children with socialization.

I began the process and things just kind of fell through.  I  didn't feel that we had the time nor the resources to raise such an enormous amount of money.  In all honestly, I wasn't even sure if the dog would work for our family. So, for months, I let the idea go.

Then one day, out of the blue, I received an email asking if we were still interested in the service dog for Drake.  Many things happened in a short amount of time to convince me that we needed this dog for Drake.  Doors were opened to show me move forward. 

That my friends is how God talks to me.  

You see, I let the idea go.  I specifically remember saying to Him, "It is up to You.  If it is meant to be then show me."  He did just that.  I didn't think about that dog for months, now she is ours.  The money was raised by sponsors, our church family, wonderful family friends, and many others who love us and believe we are doing all we can to help Drake. 

All of a sudden our lives took a dramatic shift and here we are 7 months after that email with a service dog who has been a huge blessing to us and most importantly Drake.

Koda:  Around 4 months old

I'll be honest, I was nervous.  Drake either likes something, or he doesn't.  There is no in-between with this guy. When we first met Koda she was around 6 months old and badly in need of proper training.  She was high energy and very in-your-face.  I was worried.  Drake was a bit put off by her because she was too hyper.

After just one month of training the change was phenomenal. Her trainer, Rick, has been an absolute Godsend.  He has worked so hard to train Koda and help figure out how she can best serve Drake.  This process is nowhere near the end.  Koda is still in training and not even one year old!  Her composure, poise, and willingness to learn is joyous to behold. To say the journey has been far more amazing than anyone expected is a gross understatement. 

It has taken me so long to write about this process and even now I don't feel that I can do it justice with words.  Drake and Koda have bonded more than I ever thought possible.  I really don't think they know they belong to one another yet....but the love is there.  It's so there.  Koda is doing just what we wanted her to do for Drake.

Drake has a constant companion.  She is almost always with him now.  Although he can't verbalize it...the look on his face lets me know he thinks it is way cool that his dog goes everywhere with him.

Koda is a friend and playmate.  These two play ALL the time.  From the time Drake gets up in the morning until he goes to bed they play.  He went from wanting to be glued to his iPad 24/7 to wanting it very little now.  If he does have it, you can count on Koda to drop the ball in his lap to play, and they are at it again.  They play fetch.  They play  hide-and-seek in the bedroom under the covers.  Drake loves for Koda to chase him.  He wants to be outside with her, playing and running around.  It is so beautiful.  Drake is playing.  For the first time in his life he is truly playing and loving it.

And there is more: 

Drake likes to help feed Koda and watch her while she eats.

If Drake cries or whines and Koda is in another room....she comes to check him out.

She isn't bothered by his squeals, screams, or stimming in the least.

When we are riding in the car I often catch Drake rubbing her head when she is close to him.

If they are ever apart they are equally thrilled to see one another.

They communicate quite well.  I think Drake loves the fact that she is  non-verbal too, yet she understands him and accepts him.

Drake never gets irritated with Koda.  I sometimes think she is pestering him too much, but he doesn't seem to mind at all.  In fact, I think he loves the fact that she constantly seeks his attention.

If Drake leaves a room he usually checks to see if she is following.

He laughs at her all the time...the big,  deep,  belly-laugh kind of laugh. It is magical to hear.

Still more:

When I look at this dog I can't help but thank God for her.  She is just as therapeutic for my husband and I as she is for Drake.  She helps us feel more at ease.  She helps occupy Drake.  She is sweet, loving, and completely and totally part of our family. 

My only regret is that we waited this long.  This whole process has been so beautiful and to think that the future could be even better leaves me a little breathless.  Koda has a beautiful, easy spirit about her that draws people in....just like my Drake.  

It truly is a match made in heaven and I am forever grateful. 

A special thanks to Canine Angels and Rick, Drake's therapy team(they jumped right in with both feet), Drake's preschool, and every single person who made this possible for my little guy.  

This is only the beginning of a beautiful story. 

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  1. Aww... I'm so happy for you, your family and most importantly Drake. God is good!

  2. I have been following Drake's and Koda's journey thru Canine Angels. What a beautiful blog. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us.

    1. Thank you for following our journey!