A dog trained to assist an autistic student at Stettler Elementary School arrived at the school Oct. 30 when staff and students were trained to understand the dog’s role.
Alex Laewetz, 13, is now able to work with a chocolate lab dog Remy during his time in school with assistants Judy Fox and Tanja Heatherington although the family has had the dog at home for two years.
“We’re very excited to have Remy at the school and look forward to working with him and Alex,” said Susan Gregory, a special-needs teacher.
Students and staff were trained by Janine Walters of National Service Dogs.
“We worked with all students and told them not to touch or talk to the dog,” said Walters, who is based in Cambridge, Ontario.
When on duty, Remy wears a jacket.
Dogs with this service are trained primarily for safety and helping the autistic child in transition from classroom to classroom and keeps the child on task, she said.
While the autistic child holds a handle on dog, his assistant holds the leash.
“We find these dogs are also very helpful in reducing and preventing behavioral outbursts,” said Walters.
“Trained dogs are very much in touch with the child’s emotions and behavior, and often they detect that before an adult can.”
Before the dog came to school, the family has developed a strong bond between Alex and Remy.