Pathways to Hope
The Cell Dogs program of Pathways to Hope rescues shelter dogs, and teaches inmates in the Orange County Correctional System how to care for them and to train them for home adoptions, or to become assistance dogs. The Rex grant is to specifically support the Autism Dogs program. Women in the Correctional Institution for Women train the most exceptional dogs to aid children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The dogs learn specialized behaviors such as how to gently intercede when an autistic person begins the obsessive repetitive motions known as “stemming.” The children most at risk from impetuous behaviors remain tethered to their dogs, and if they start to leave the house, a parent can shout “Anchor!” and the 80-pound dog will simply lie down, preventing the child from running into traffic. Often the child so restrained will end up simply lying down with the dog. This frees families for the stress of constant fear and vigilance.
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