'It gives us hope:' Autistic Arizona boy gifted with support dog

An Arizona boy diagnosed with autism before turning 1 year old has received the gift of a dog.

It's an amazing opportunity for the now 4-year-old Linden and his family to heal.

Amber and her husband James are first responders, and they live in Scottsdale with their twin boys.

"Linden is currently 4 years old. At 18 months, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder," said Amber in a YouTube video.

Amber submitted the video to 4E Kennels Healing Hearts, a Las Vegas non-profit.

"When Amber came to us and did a video and applied we were so completely moved by her and what she has gone through, we just felt really strongly," said Healing Hearts founder Jeanette Forrey. "We love to give back, we love to help those who have also been difference makers."

Forrey surprised the family with a service dog named Arthur, a standard goldendoodle.

"They all go through three stages of training," Forrey said. "The first is puppy raising, fun exposure…stage two, we start public access work and making sure that they feel comfortable out in public with everything being so unpredictable and unreliable. 

And stage three is where we start fine-tuning exactly…what does this dog want to do and what tasks we need to train to truly help a recipient to change their life through the power of a dog," she continued.

Arthur is trained specifically to meet Linden's needs. 

The child is non-verbal and is an "eloper," which means he runs at will. The dog already knows his scent so he can find him.

Additionally, Linden has a light sensory process disorder as well, and he does not like to get dressed.

"Arthur from 8 weeks old…has been dressed up in all types of gear, he loves it, he gets rewarded for it," Forrey said. "Our goal is that Arthur will get dressed every morning too and hopefully Linden will be like, 'Well, my dog is getting dressed.’"

Arthur will help Linden find a focus point, whether it's during family outings or when he feels stressed. He will empower the boy and his family in a way that only these special pups can do.

"It gives us hope, it gives us freedom," Amber said. "[It gives us] better opportunities for us to do things with our family outside of our house."

The pair were introduced on Saturday for the first time. They already love each other.

Arthur and Linden

Arthur and Linden

More about 4E Healing Hearts: https://4ehealinghearts.com/

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