After nearly a year of fundraising and service training, a 12-month-old golden retriever named Drake has arrived in Oceanside to begin her career on Monday helping children with autism.
She has been trained to “read” commands using visual cues, which will allow nonverbal children with autism to communicate with Drake using flashcards.
Children may use the cards to give Drake specific commands, such as “come” or “sit,” or request a specific activity with Drake, like giving a high-five or going for a walk.
Drake is the first of her kind at Good Dog! Autism Companions, a Fallbrook-based nonprofit that specializes in training personal service dogs for children with autism and their families.
With the help of her namesake, the Drake Center for Veterinary Care in Encinitas and its clients — who successfully raised over $10,000 for the service dog in 2013 — Drake’s extensive training at Good Dog! will allow her to help not one but many children at the Comprehensive Autism Center in Oceanside.
Drake arrived Tuesday and will officially begin her work at the autism center on Monday. Though Drake is owned by the Drake Center, she will live and work with center’s regional director, Susie Jordan, her husband and twin daughters.
As an autism service dog, Drake will help to increase motivation, promote gross and fine motor activities, provide opportunities for language, and calm and comfort children with autism spectrum disorders.