• Summertime with Dancer

    The Gershwins and Heywards were not thinking of most autism families I know when they penned, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.”

    Neither, I’m learning, were they thinking of this autism service dog.

    The shortened school hours, the weeks without school and the disruption in the daily routine puts Zander into a bit of a tizzy. The smallest change can set him off. So our summers are anything but languid.

    Dancer, too, gets thrown off. The power walks she and I take alone to keep our sanity are shortened and less frequent. Our weekly visits to Nazareth House to train and romp with her Love Heels pals are also shortened and less frequent. And she’s in tune with Zander, so his tizzies make her dizzy, in a manner of speaking.

    Of course, she can’t tell me this. But, boy, does she show me. Socks, slippers, even bags of doughnuts get snatched when I’m not looking. Then she waits on the deck for me to see her and her “prize.” Her eyes are baleful and her meaning is clear: “I want some attention.”

    Yesterday was an especially difficult day, so she selected a commensurate “prize.” She ran off with “Therapy Bear,” a stuffed animal with a 5-pound weight sewn in it (something Zander uses in his room to calm down). I found them in the lawn, quite a distance for one dog to carry a 5-pound weight in her teeth.

    So today, we took a long power walk, Dancer and I. Now she’s sacked out and happy, which I must say, makes livin’ on this summertime after noon a lot more easy.

    Dancer relaxes with the sock she stole from my husband and "Therapy Bear."

    Dancer relaxes with the sock she stole from my husband and “Therapy Bear.”

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