Huffpost Parents
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Patrice E. Athanasidy Headshot

Puppy Power

Posted: Updated:
Print

Last fall when we were surrounded by the debris of Superstorm Sandy, we had power while much of our neighborhood did not. My three children used the opportunity as their chance to press me for the puppy they have wanted for quite a long time. We have allergy issues here, but the most recent visit had the allergist say we could handle a dog on the low end of the allergy scale.

Their next hurdle was Peter. At 11, Peter still had a tremendous fear of animals. Live animals are unpredictable, have a definite scent, lick him without permission and in general test all of Peter's daily stresses that come with his autistic spectrum disorder. Until he thought he wanted a puppy, I was pretty hesitant about the whole thing.

When Charlotte, now 15, is faced with a challenge, she arms herself with information. She hit the Internet. Charlotte found breeds we could have safely and story after story about how having your own pet when you have an autistic spectrum disorder helps conquer that fear and many others. She could see me faltering.

Then, she pulled out all the stops. She had Kit show some pictures with that little girl pleeeease expression on her face. She got Peter excited about a puppy. She found the Diary of A Mom post about how her daughter was terrified, but now loves their dog. And then the three started showing me pictures -- many, many pictures of adorable puppies.

By the third day of puppy photos, we were filling out an adoption form application because even Peter was sighing about how cute this pup was. As it turns out, the puppy we wanted was already being adopted, but our interviewer had a puppy she was caring for that she thought would be perfect. As I opened her email, I knew this little dog had to be part of our family, and so we began planning.

My husband Bill had to fly to Minnesota to pick up Bambi. The Christmas present would arrive a week or so after Christmas. The weather cooperated and Bill managed to get to Minnesota and back in one day with no flight issues.

Peter admired Bambi from afar. He spent weeks checking her out from one side of the family room gate while Bambi was on the other. He walked behind anyone who touched the puppy with a canister of Lysol, since his concern about dog germs rivaled Lucy Van Pelt. I knew we were making progress when I only needed one Lysol a week.

Peter adjusted slowly. We would make him watch one show with Bambi in the family room, then hang out for a whole movie. Before I knew it, Peter was asking to have time with Bambi alone while he stretched out on the couch. He would give her treats and clean up her mistakes. I could not believe the progress.

He held her in baby steps, too. First, he would hold her only if there was a layer between them. Now, he lets her stay on his back or lap. He walks with her too.

Peter is also conquering his storm fears because he spends storms worried about Bambi. He tells me she must hear the storms like he does and that means it is VERY loud. He holds her so she isn't scared.

Charlotte's research was right, and now you can add this blog to the proof of puppy power for the next family debating whether or not they should get a puppy.

2013-08-28-peter_holding_bambi.jpeg