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Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence (ADAI) has placed more than 250 service and therapy dogs with individuals in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Due to the extensive training and individualization of each dog placed, the current cost per dog ... More ...

Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence (ADAI) has placed more than 250 service and therapy dogs with individuals in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Due to the extensive training and individualization of each dog placed the current cost per dog is $20,000.  Over the past 25 years ADAI has been able to fund almost the entire cost of placement through grants and donations with little cost to the person receiving the dog.  Unfortunately, given the recent adjustments to the economy, we have to be creative with our fundraising efforts. Join us in embracing the story of Owen and Haise as written through his mother’s eyes.  If you are moved by the miracles we see happen every day, please assist us in continuing our mission.


The Impact of a Therapy Dog

By: Lissa V.

May 9, 2013


            I have a loved one who is a recipient of a therapy dog and he entered our hearts just six short months ago. I think he is more like a guardian angel with four legs having witnessed some of the magic that has happened between him and my son.

           Ten years ago, I gave birth to twin boys. Being that these were my third and fourth babies, I could tell early on that there was something different going on with Owen. I kept it to myself for quite a while because, after all, his pediatrician had never said anything at the many well-check appointments his first year. I decided to seek a second opinion when Owen began falling further and further behind his twin around 18 months.

            Through extensive diagnostic testing and many, many specialists, we learned a lot about Owen and all that he had experienced in his short two years with us. We discovered that he had survived a Stroke at some point prior to his birth; he has a Blood Clotting Disorder; Epilepsy; Sensory Integration Disorder; ADHD; High Functioning Autism and, oh yes, a rare and relatively new condition called Short QT Syndrome. This affects the electrical impulses in your heart telling it basically to beat-beat-beat in a nice rhythm. Owen’s could just decide to stop anytime without notice. When he was diagnosed with Short QT, there were, I believe, only 13 recorded living cases in the world as most end in sudden death. 

            Before Haise came into the family’s life, I TRULY didn’t understand the impact that a therapy dog can have on a person whether there is a visual, hidden or no disability at all. 

            So many times, driving to and from team training, alone in my car, I experienced emotions that I hadn’t thought about in a VERY, long time. For me, being the blessed mom of a child with special needs, I have been presented with many medical issues or challenges from school. I never seem to get the time to fully process the whole matter at hand. For me, I deal with the moment, find the best solution, tuck away my emotions to deal with later (when there is time), and, move on to the next crisis or, I hope, accomplishment. The intense feelings of finally getting “the call” and what that would mean for Owen opened my floodgates and allowed my healing therapy to begin. This MUST be the feeling people on an organ transplant list experience when they receive their long awaited call. And then, my guilt came rolling in. Is it fair to bring a trained dog into a house that can be chaotic at times? Am I adding to my own stress? There are nights when I have to carpool to sports, make dinner, help with homework, baths fir boys, lunches, clothes and backpacks ready for the next day and now we will add dog grooming, teeth brushing, walking and practicing commands? How was I EVER going to do this EVERY day? I took one look at my son, took in a long, slow, deep breath and then, let it all go.

            This extraordinary animal had been made for my son’s life and I just needed to stop and breathe. Haise is a tool to be used in Owen’s daily life to help him make sense out of a world that makes no sense at times. Just as you might use certain drills in speech, OT or PT, Haise is used to bring down my son’s level of anxiety when he becomes distressed.

            After only one week, I could feel a definite difference in our home. He was very calm and seemed to bring this with him. The chaos was quickly being replaced and I was thrilled to see it leave.


I have witnessed some moments where Haise was called into action only; I didn’t speak a verbal command to him.

            Owen had a stuck zipper at school and shut down due to being embarrassed. In his eyes, EVERYONE had noticed and it was a CRISIS. He had only told the secretary to call his mom and to take him to her right away. I knew the state of mind he would be in when I reached him, so I decided to take Haise along with me as I stopped by home to grab a pair of sweatpants. As soon as I walked into the office, I could see it on his face. He had gotten himself upset, his stomach was not hurting and he was convinced that he needed to go home.

            We talked a little and changed from jeans into the carefree sweatpants and I let Haise work his magic on Owen’s anxiety. Haise and I were given permission to walk Owen back to class as he wasn’t one hundred per cent recovered. (Honestly, I didn’t think he would willingly make it without an escort.)

            His eyes started leaking crocodile tears the closer we got to his classroom and it was a beautiful sight to witness the reaction Haise instinctively gave. He was walking on Owen’s lead in a calm, relaxed heal and continually looked up at Owen’s face showing much concern as if to ask why “his boy” was so upset? Before we opened the door to the classroom, Owen spent a few minutes petting Haise and soaked in the calming powers to last the rest of the day. Haise isn’t a “licky” or “pushy” dog but he let Owen know that he was there for him by giving him gentle nudges almost to say, “Keep petting me Owen, let me work for you now.”

            The rest of the school day was uneventful and this is a GREAT thing. Before Haise, having something like this happen to Owen would have meant behavior cards being pulled, recess lost, or he would have just shut down and I would have had to take him home meaning a day of learning lost.

In closing, I would like to thank all of the volunteers, fosters, trainers, staff members, breeders, and donors. My son now smiles from the inside out and I smile from my heart when I hear him from another room gently talking to his new best friend. He no longer slips into his own silent world as he often did. THANK YOU.

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