Brittany Vance is a music journalist and an autism advocate who dedicates her existence to making this world a better place for special needs. She has a son Kierce who is a 9-years-old boy who has Autism and rare metabolic disease. Kierce also has an emotional support dog named Luke. Luke is a black lab, who is two years old now. They have Luke since he was 14 weeks old.
When I asked Brittany why she chose a Labrador over other dog breeds, she said this, “Research from the University of Lincoln found that children with autism experience fewer meltdowns in the presence of a pet. Also, pets help reduce anxiety and improve communication. Labs are on the top 10- list for kids with autism. They are patient, smart, and easy to train. Brittany trained Luke, the basic dog commands herself, and Luke learned very fast,” she said.
Kierce also has a metabolic acidosis. His doctors suspect a metabolic disease, but it’s unknown at this time even though he’s been tested by a Geneticist each year. Brittany shares that he has to eat every two hours, or he can get sick and be hospitalized if his body produces too much acid. His symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, and fast breathing, and he does have ketones in his urine during his episodes.
When I asked, how does Luke help Kierce with his meltdowns? Brittany explains, “Autistic kids have meltdowns which can occur randomly at any time, and Luke mostly distracts him. If Luke hears Kierce getting upset, Luke will whine too. And I’m like, look, you’re making Luke upset, and sometimes it’ll distract him and calms my son down.”
Britanny made a wise choice of the kind of breed to help her son out. The Labrador Retriever, Labrador or just Lab, is a medium-large breed of retriever-gun dog. (A retriever is a type of gun dog that retrieves game for a hunter. Gun dogs, or bird dogs, are types of hunting dogs developed to assist hunters in finding and retrieving game, usually birds). The Labrador is the most popular breed of dog in many nations. Their temperament is ideal. They are intelligent, kind, agile, outgoing, trusting, gentle, even-tempered. A favorite disability assistance breed in many countries, Labradors are frequently trained to aid those with blindness or autism, act as a therapy dog, or perform screening and detection work for law enforcement and other official agencies. They come in the colors: Black, Chocolate, Yellow- Wikipedia
Also, we know that majority of guide dogs are labradors because they just have the right temperament.
Labs can be also be trained to respond to hundreds of commands.
They are friendly, reliable, obedient, affectionate. They thrive in most environments. They are great with families with children.
When I asked Brittany the question, what does having Luke mean to you and your son? She said,” It means my son has a companion and a best friend. My son will learn how to care and love a living thing.”
Companionship and friendship that is the link we have to our paws.