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Meet Chancer, a One of a Kind Dog . . .

NY Times magazine tells a wonderful story about a boy and his dog:

“The moment he walked in the house with Chancer, I knew something had changed,” Harvey says. “I could feel it instantly, the magnetism between Iyal and the dog. . . . Chancer was an emotional and physical anchor for a kid who was pretty lost in the world.”

When Iyal is distressed, Chancer is distressed. Unlike Iyal, Chancer knows what to do about it. Iyal rages by crossing his arms, sitting down hard on the floor and screaming and kicking. Chancer unknots the crossed arms by inserting his wide muzzle through the locked arms from below, opening them up and nuzzling toward Iyal’s face, licking and slobbering, until the boy’s screams turn to tears of remorse or to laughter.

Chancer sometimes heads off tantrums before they start. If a tutor or a therapist has worked with Iyal in the dining room a bit too long, Chancer moves between the visitor and the boy, clearly relaying: We’re done for today. From two floors away, he will alert, flicking his ears, tuning in. Sensing that Iyal is nearing a breaking point, he gallops up or down the stairs to find him, playfully head-butts and pushes him down to the floor, gets on top of him, stretches out and relaxes with a satisfied groan. Helplessly pinned under Chancer, Iyal resists, squawks and then relaxes, too. The big dog lies on top of the boy he loves, and seals him off from the dizzying and incomprehensible world for a while.

When I ask Dulebohn about Chancer’s preternatural sensitivity, he says: “We trained Chancer to disrupt tantrums. Being able to prevent tantrums is coming from subtle training within the family. He may be reading Donnie’s body language or facial expressions, or he may be smelling some chemical changes in Iyal or hearing some noises from him that predict a tantrum. He feels rewarded when Iyal stabilizes.” 

The story is worth your time.  After reading it you may want to visit 4 Paws for Ability.  These are the wonderful people making it their life's work to train service dogs for children with disabilities.  It costs $22,000 to train a service dog and the clients are asked to contribute $13,000 toward that expense.  4 Paws makes up the difference through charitable donations and grants.  You might consider it a cause worth a contribution.  

 

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