December 30, 2017


I have truly been in awe of the connection that Brandon and his autism service dog, Bingo, have made so far. 


Their relationship was not love at first sight. First of all, when they met it was while we were out of town for the training, and Brandon was just off a six hour car ride and a night in a strange hotel. Brandon had little interest in Bingo, and Bingo was nervous due to Brandon’s severe meltdowns. In fact, at one point in the car while we were parked waiting for our turn to track, Brandon flipped out, screaming and flailing his arms and legs everywhere. Bingo was so scared he leaped into the front seat of the car in my lap. I don’t blame him one bit! Brandon was out of control. Bingo didn’t even know him, and feared being hurt. Those two weeks we were in Ohio training were two of the worst weeks we’ve had with Brandon’s temperament and behavior. He was off. the. chain.

Now that we are all home together it is different. Better. There are a lot of things we can do to help strengthen their bond and by golly, we do it! Brandon is still not a perfect angel, but he comfortable at home. Now that Bingo seems to be used to his new environment and our craziness, he seems more confident. He has approached Brandon several times when he was upset, chased him around the upstairs while Brandon squealed with joy, and has snuggled up with Brandon, trusting him not to flail around on him. (Uhhh...hopefully Brandon doesn’t break that trust!) Oh my...Bingo’s patenice! Brandon feeds Bingo, and two nights ago Brandon spilled his scoop of kibble EVERYWHERE.  Bingo just sat there. Literally. He sat there and patiently waited for us to clean up all that food and get it in his bowl.

Brandon has more confidence with Bingo, too. If Bingo is too “up in his face,” Brandon gently moves him away. What blows me away more than anything is seeing Brandon interact with him on his own. I have seen Brandon rub Bingo’s ear, pet him, and even hold his paw. Those of you who know Brandon well...who have been rejected and ignored by him (I sure have!), understand how truly astonishing this is.

It may not have been love at first sight, but it sure is love!

December 23, 2017

Bad Juju in the Absence of Bingo

After we left 4 Paws, training with Bingo, we were heartbroken. We had to leave him there to finish the rest of his training. As hard as it was to be without him, I had to trust God‘s timing this. Had we brought him home with us after training, we all would’ve had to go back to work and school, and Bingo would have had to stay at the house by himself, likely kenneled up. He came home on our last half day of school before Winter Break, allowing us two weeks to be at the house with him and get him used to being at the house without us. If he does go to school with Brandon, it won’t be for a few months. He is home now, and we are thrilled! On the eve of Christmas Eve, I am reflecting on the goings on in our family in Bingo’s five week absence. 

On the drive home, we hit so many road closings in Nashville, that we had no idea where we were going. We were so close to being home, yet so far! The kennel we purchased for Bingo never showed up. It was supposed to arrive while we were gone, but the tracking information never moved. When we finally received it, it was the wrong size, so we had to return it and buy a new one. A few days later my step-daughter nearly totaled her car after continuing to drive the rest of the way to work on a blown tire. Her phone broke and needed to be replaced. Then James’ Jeep had something wrong with it, and we were down to one car with three people who needed to get to work. The diamond in my ring broke off, prongs and all, and we could not find it - we still haven’t, although my diamond has since been replaced. The outdoor furniture we ordered was delayed for three months, so we returned it and had to get the ones that were already delivered, picked up. In the midst of that return, our credit card was stolen, leaving the furniture store without a card to return our money to. My step-daughter got the flu, missing all her mid-terms. Brandon got the flu, and we both missed the last two days of school before winter break (I’m a teacher). James got the flu. I’m just am sitting here praying that I make it through this flu-mania unscathed.

Will our luck change now?

Bingo is now home, and it’s the best Christmas present we could ever receive! He already seems to feel at home. On the first night, Bingo was laying next to me on the couch and heard Brandon crying in his sensory room. All on his own, Bing hopped up to check on him.  I taught Brandon how to feed Bingo. It turns out I have to hide the food because Brandon decided he could feed Bingo any time he wants, and randomly gave him a second helping! I imagine Bingo thinking, “Yep...I’m going to get along with this kid just fine!” 

We need to continue to work on their bond because Brandon’s social skills, even with a dog, can make it very difficult to interact positively with him. He doesn’t understand how a dog likes to be pet, or even that Bingo probably doesn’t like it when Brandon pets him with his feet! Brandon melts down, and we have to teach Bing that it’s okay, and there’s nothing to be afraid of. This was all done while we trained at 4 Paws, and while skiddish around Brandon’s sometimes explosive behavior at first, Bing is now totally comfortable around Brandon. Yay! Yesterday morning we made getting Brandon out of bed a fun experience. They ran around the upstairs and Brandon was belly laughing! This morning, Bing parked himself outside Brandon’s door, ready for the fun to begin again. The bonding is in full effect, and we will continue to build that bond!

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