Autism dog helps keep girl safe

Electra the autism dog is keeping 10-year-old Krya Fox safe as well as helping her get a better sleep.

Kyra Fox

Kyra Fox

Electra the autism dog is keeping 10-year-old Krya Fox safe as well as helping her get a better sleep.

Kyra’s mother, Kim Fox, said after two weeks with the trained dog, the impact has already been huge on her daughter, who has autism.

“Standing here in this mall, we wouldn’t be able to do that. She would be tearing off somewhere,” said Fox about her daughter while they were at Bower Place Shopping Centre with Electra.

Autism support dogs are trained to increase the safety and confidence of moderately to severe autistic children.

In public, Kyra wears a safety belt attached to Electra’s jacket while Kyra’s mother holds the dog’s leash.

If Kyra tries to bolt, the dog will sit to prevent her from running away.

On Friday, Kyra, her mom and Electra did a final test, walking around the mall to see how the dog behaves with the family and how it follows commands amid the noise, crowds and food aromas from the food court.

Two-year-old Electra, a golden retriever/Labrador retriever cross, was trained by Alberta Guide Dog Services, a division of British Columbia Guide Dog Services.

Fundraising pays the cost of training.

Krya’s mother said her daughter is unpredictable and impulsive, but with Electra, Kyra is more grounded.

Electra is also helping to settle Kyra for sleep. Krya doesn’t have sensory filters so she wakes up frequently from noises.

“If someone is touching her, she sleeps peacefully. We’re training the dog to sleep on her bed and lean against her.”

Electra will also help Kyra, a Grade 4 student at Joseph Welsh School, create social bonds with other students.

For more information, visit www.albertaguidedog.com.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com