Selfless act gives boy living with autism a service dog
VERNON COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) — The CDC said more than three and a half million people live with a disorder on the autism spectrum.
There’s no cure for autism, but it can be managed with the right type of care and assistance.
Living with autism is different for everyone. For 12-year-old Logan Haines in Soldier’s Grove, his mom said he sometimes has trouble communicating and can get worked up over situations rather quickly.
To help Logan, his family has decided to go the four-legged route and get him a dog, but getting the dog to Wisconsin is a miracle in itself and truly an act of selflessness by complete strangers.
“I just took an instant liking to her once I saw her,” said Haines.
Haines, along with his mom and sister, went to the Vernon County Humane Society to visit Logan’s new friend, a dog named Cherie.
“I mean right when we walked through the door I started petting her,” said Haines.
“He didn’t speak much. He was just instantly drawn to her, it was instantaneous,” said Shannon Goodman, Logan’s mom.
“He was able to kiss her nose and be straight up in her face and she loved it. She adored it,” said Megan Cavage, Logan’s sister.
Logan’s mom and sister are hoping Cherie will help Logan manage his autism, which he was diagnosed with when he was 6 years old.
“It’s heartbreaking at times because some of the things he does, but he doesn’t realize he is doing it,” said Goodman.
“Sometimes it’s the video games (that cause Logan to get upset) and sometimes he is frustrated with not being able to say something right away because he does have a stutter,” said Cavage.
“As a mom, it makes me feel helpless,” said Goodman. “I don’t know what triggered it, it’s hard to get it out of him and I don’t know how to help him right then and there.”
Goodman said as Logan’s needs continue to evolve, a four-legged friend will be able to grow with him.
“Logan has been struggling lately with meltdowns and emotional things going on and as he grows everything changes, so medications have to change so we are just trying to find someone for Logan,” said Goodman.
That someone is Cherie, but her journey here has been a long one too.
“She was scheduled to be euthanized,” said Jennie Klar the former manager of the Vernon County Humane Society. “I got a call from the rescue coordinator asking if we would be willing to take three dogs scheduled to be euthanized, I said heck yes and we ended up getting Cherie.”
But before Cherie could come to Wisconsin, she had to go to a foster family for a little bit because they don’t normally go from one shelter to another and that’s where the family taking care of Cherie fell in love with her.
“She was with a gal named Sherry and her great niece fell madly in love with this dog,” said Klar.
They fell so in love with Cherie that the foster family wanted to adopt her. However, when they found out Cherie was going to be a companion for a Wisconsin boy with autism, the foster family decided to put their own feelings aside and send her to Logan.
“It’s the most amazing thing that there are still beautiful people out there willing to give up what they love so someone else can have happiness,” said Klar.
But Cherie didn’t come to Wisconsin empty handed. To make sure Logan was up to date on everything, the little girl sent an entire binder and bag for Logan that included a little note.
“The great niece wrote out different things that Cherie needs to have: a fan blowing when she sleeps, likes her belly rubbed, loves to sleep in bed, will sit by door to go outside,” said Klar.
“We read her letter and it just made us cry,” said Goodman. “It makes me hurt for that little girl because I can’t even imagine fostering this dog and falling in love with her and still being able to think beyond themselves and to think about Logan and let her come here.”
Logan’s family said they will never be able to thank the little girl enough for her selflessness and what she has done for Logan.
“You just gave Logan a friend he will have for a very long time,” said Cavage.
“I am sure this will come back to her. She has done more good than she can possibly imagine, especially at that young of an age,” said Goodman.
And that good deed includes seven little puppies.
“There is still good and I really believe that. Not everyone is bad, not everything is bad, but there is always a blessing around the corner, like this one,” said Goodman.
“Maybe I can teach her how to talk in human words,” said Haines.
Cherie has been home for about a month now and the family has actually decided to change her name to Freya. They plan on staying in touch with the foster family and sending monthly updates to them.
The average cost of a service dog through Autism Service Dogs of America is about $13,000.