Aly’s Puppy Boot Camp: Give Back to our Community
Caring for others and supporting the community has always been a core value for us and our business.
Donating to a worthy cause makes us feel that we help make the world a better place.
Among other things, we love bringing cheer and happiness to children diagnosed with autism by offering trained service dogs. APBC regularly donates additional training to our very special dogs and families.
This is a heartfelt letter we received by the mother of two autistic boys describing her family’s journey to finding Aly’s Puppy Boot Camp, and getting their trained service dog Leo. Her story filled us with tears of joy and contentment.
A Trained Service Dog for Our Autistic Child, a mothers testimonial…
We are asked all the time how we came to find Leo for Joseph, and I respond …we found an amazing lady, who just happens to have the most amazing talent and love for dogs. Her name is Aly.
It is this wonderful woman who not only loves and trains dogs but she also cares about the families who want to include a dog in their lives. She is amazing in the way she welcomes you, listens to you and matches you with the right dog. It’s an incredible process that is well worth it.
And here is our story. Joseph was diagnosed with autism at 17 months old. He is the third of 4 boys. One of his older brothers has autism as well. Our family has been in this world for over 15 years. Joseph’s journey with autism was a unique one. It never fit any box, diagnosis, assistance or medical book. Throughout the years, nothing quite worked to help alleviate his random triggers, two-hour tempers, daily shutdowns, or sensory overload. We simply pushed through,
My boys had wanted a dog for so long, and I was the one that kept saying no. With 4 boys and so much lack of control, and unknown, the last thing I wanted was one more thing to take care of.
But then, a pattern started to emerge with Joseph. By the time Joseph was 7, he was mobile, but still lacking basic social and communication skills. No matter where we went, he loved dogs – and dogs loved him. If there was a dog anywhere in sight, he had to go to it. You may be thinking it is common, but it really wasn’t. Joseph approached nothing and no one. He rarely connected with anything, neither people nor animals. He hated attention, touch, or the unknown. But he went to dogs. Something was different about Joseph when he was around dogs.
Then my catalyst happened…
A Step Closer to Getting a Service Dog
On a family visit in Louisiana, we were on a plantation tour. I was in the gift shop as I couldn’t even get in the front doors with Joseph. Something unknown had triggered Joseph into a shutdown. Here I was, with a 7-year old, on the floor, not budging, and almost impossible to move without making things even worse. I got down on the ground and sat with him as I normally did when this behavior occurred. No words, just presence. Joseph curled in a ball, completely shut off from touch, sounds, and talking. Luckily, staff and people were kind and let us be there on the ground. After several failed prompts, attempts at moving, or dialog, we were stuck. 45 minutes passed. I was practically in tears, anyone can imagine the judgement I was sure I was getting.
Then, it happened. The owners of the plantation had a dog, and I didn’t even know it. But all of a sudden, a golden lab came into the store, walked straight to Joseph, circled and laid right down next to him. No words, no commands. He found Joseph, as dogs typically did. Within less then a minute, Joseph pulled his head up off the ground, looked at the dog, and bent his head near the dogs’ head. The owner had followed and assured me the Lab was a very good boy and that it was ok. So I didn’t try to stop Joseph from being near or petting him. Joseph started petting the Lab, with his forehead leaning near the dog’s head.
And within another minute, he was up! All smiles, sitting quietly and happily with the Lab, hugging him and petting him and softly talking with him. I got up and asked Joseph to help me take him outside in the sun and he got up off the floor and led the dog out. Within 5 minutes, Joseph was talking, walking with me, and completely calm. I couldn’t tell you the amazement and relief I felt. And I knew then, that’s it.
We are getting a dog! It didn’t matter the extra work involved, or the additional care I would have to exert. Joseph needed this. Joseph needed a dog. It wasn’t a want… it was a need. It would help him to make things easier for him. I didn’t understand why or how it worked for him. But it did. And so, I began the search.
Meeting with Aly’s Puppy Boot Camp
I had many recommendations including applications for service dogs, adopting a dog from a shelter and getting him trained, or even fostering. I knew, it couldn’t just be any dog. Joseph needed a safe dog, a trained dog, as he was going to be ON the dog, with his hands, face, and body. After several applications for service dogs, the lists were years of wait.
After about a year of research and talking with service dog organizations, a friend overheard me talking about finding a service dog. She recommended I look up Aly. So, the first thing I did was to look up whoever this ‘Aly’ was at Aly’s Puppy Boot Camp facebook page! I looked through the page, clicked the link to her site, and immediately noticed that she had dogs available, already trained.
I emailed Aly with some simple inquiries, and a general idea of what I was looking for. And within a day, I received a call. It was Aly! She took the time to listen, take notes and ask me questions I never would have thought of. After talking to Aly about what I was looking for Joseph and our family dynamic, we planned a visit. We took our entire crew (all 6 of us) up to see her and meet all she had to offer. We walked into her home, and immediately, Joseph heard DOGS! We told him we were here to meet some doggies and play… no promises, no set plan.
We had seen a few dogs on her site, which we were interested in meeting, and Aly made available for Joseph to socialize with. In all her wisdom, Aly knew better. As my other 3 boys played on the acreage with dogs galore, Aly made sure to include in the socializations some dogs she had available that she felt might fit our needs, based on what I had told her.
And then her magical wisdom revealed itself. She said, ‘you know, in truth, you don’t pick the dog, the dog picks you. And as we were talking with her about her camp and all her lovely puppies, we all looked up.
And there was Joseph, running across the yard and Leo in close pursuit! Leo caught up to him, then turned and ran in the opposite direction while Joseph chased right after ! They went back and forth, literally playing tag. Jumping, playing, and Leo licking away at his face, which Joseph loved!! And still does love! He was so free and I just watched in awe the happiness and calm in Joseph’s face.
Aly simply said, I think we have a match. I said, I think you are right… WOW, it was just like that.
Being a Family with Aly’s Puppy
Over the next 3 months, Aly communicated with us regarding specific things we wanted Leo to be doing to help Joseph. She knew Leo would be utilized as a service dog His main service would be to calm Joseph, help him with transitions and navigate throughout the day. He would be a working dog, but also be a part of the family unit. These were two different things. Aly worked with Leo over the next few months, on the additional training tools needed and desired in a service dog, including cars, travel, kids, vesting, under, on and paws up and down. Aly truly does speak dog, and her amazing team fall in step right alongside her.
On our return to Aly’s Boot Camp place, Aly had prepared a comprehensive training for the entire family. As I was going to be the main handler, she spent additional time teaching and explaining to me, not only the commands and process, but the importance of continued work, training, and reboots. Above all, integrating it directly and specifically to Joseph’s various situations and needs. She explained and showed us the science behind the training with dogs and its importance. It was a hands-on approach practicing, using proper tone, words, holds, and movements. We all understood how to keep Leo calm, sane, civilized and ultimately ‘trained.’ I learned and understood pretty quickly how to make sure Joseph and Leo remained a team. A dog doesn’t remain trained because they were trained once but they remain trained because their humans and families maintain the training.
Aly and her team trains you, teaches you, helps you and then remains available to you even after you leave the acreage. It all came with a lifetime of assistance, love, support and access to her and any help we would ever need.
In the end, Aly wouldn’t entrust her pups to her families if she didn’t believe in each family and the fit and matches that she makes. And it helped knowing we would never be alone.
Upon picking up Leo and bringing him home, Joseph was so excited. He knew he had Leo! He slept with Leo all the way home.
We love you Aly!! We hope to come visit you and the APBC team
again soon. Joseph and Jordan both can’t wait to be in your world of dogs again. We can’t thank you enough for all the love! We would have never been able to make such a leap without you. It has truly impacted Joseph beyond belief and this calmness in his life would not have happened if we hadn’t found you. I hope that more and more families can learn and understand the amazing asset, the right dog (An Aly’s Dog) can be to their family dynamic. It doesn’t solve every challenge, or temper, or hardship – it eases the ones that do happen. We are thankful–Melissa W. and the entire family!