Service Collies: Barry

Life with the Perfect Dog

Barry, a collie who partners with an autistic child as a support dog, offers support to his partner Michael. Not often in your life can you say things are perfect. But in the case of Barry, our Kings Valley Collie, trained by Leslie Rappaport, there are few other words that come to mind. You see, our son Michael is on the autistic spectrum, (his diagnosis is PDD-NOS) and when we needed a dog, we needed a PERFECT dog.

Leslie Rappaport is an EXPERT at dog placement. She has a gift for pairing the right dog for service with the right family. The first time we spoke on the phone, I described in detail what I needed in a trained service oriented dog. Leslie listened and asked many questions. We began to talk more frequently and developed together, a sense of what was important to our family. She had a dog that she felt would be a match for us, and began working with him to ensure that he met our needs. She was excited to place her dog with a high functioning autistic child and had so many suggestions of ways we could utilize both her talents and the natural talents of her collie.

Two months later Barry came home. He walked in, greeted us all, went upstairs with my husband and myself, plopped down on his new dog bed, and slept like he had lived there forever. His house manners were and still are PERFECT!!

Barry, a collie who partners with an autistic child as a support dog, is an excellent family dog who is a friend to all the kids in the family.Barry, a collie who partners with an autistic child as a support dog, plays with his partner Michael.

For me, my husband and our daughter it was love at first sight. For Michael, at first, the bonding was slow. We would talk to Michael about what good boy Barry was. “See Michael, how much Barry loves you? He steps OVER your train tracks and doesn’t even bump them” “See Michael how much Barry loves you?” “He NEVER eats the food you drop on the floor.” “See Michael how much Barry loves you?” “He stands by you when you are sad but he doesn’t lick you or even touch you unless you want him to.”

Slowly the trust was formed and slowly our perfect family dog became Michael’s dog too. Now, it is Michael who says, “Barry is such a good dog. He is MY FRIEND.” When Barry is around it is not unusual for Michael to give him a full body hug. (Michael loves to cuddle, it comforts him.) Now when Michael is upset, Barry is usually close at hand. Barry will stand right next to Michael and quietly wait. We can say to Michael, “Michael look, Barry is worried about you, can you give him a hug?” Michael will frequently transition his attention to Barry and a melt down will be prevented!!!