Autism Awareness Day is Saturday April 2nd.
To mark the day, Canine Companions is celebrating its mission of providing highly trained assistance dogs for people with disabilities at Dogfest Walk N' Roll.
Students at one valley school are learning first-hand how much these K-9 companions really do.
Five days a week Principal Matt Drowne and his facility dog Fable have a very important job to do.
“Fable has a full day,” says Drowne. “She starts at 8:30 at morning drop-off. She wears a crossing guard vest and waits out at the curb as our students are brought to the school. A lot of our students who are anxious or have had rough evenings get pretty excited when they see Fable greet them.”
There are classroom visits and recess, but most importantly it's what Fable does for the kids at Gateway.
“When I’m upset, she helps me by being there for me,” says 8th Grader Jack Graines. “Her positive attitude is contagious and just being around her makes me feel a little better.”
“She plays a lot of roles for our school…serves as a support for a lot of our students an incentive and reward and a social conduit for a lot of our students as well,” says Drowne.
Principal Drowne adopted and trained Fable two years ago and now she knows 28 commands.
“That’s it, all the way back…back…back, all the way, good girl.”
From opening doors to closing drawers, to providing comfort.
“Push Fable, all right good girl....”
“She’s an incentive for students who might be struggling…the teacher wants to dangle a carrot in front of them…hey if you can complete your assignment or do what I’m asking you to do, you can earn some Fable time.
“She spends a lot of time in the classrooms throughout the day.” She will sit next to students having difficult staying on task.”
Principal Drowne says Fable has a magic about her...one that helps the K-12 school provide an even better education for the special students here.
“Having her at Gateway makes Gateway a better school because I have a friend I look forward to seeing every day.”
Canine Companions will celebrate its mission of providing highly-trained assistance dogs for people with disabilities at Dogfest Walk N’ Roll Phoenix on April 2nd.