Susy Tucker marks the time her autistic son, Zach, began hugging her again — after a lapse of four years — by the arrival of Clyde, a chocolate Labrador trained behind bars by a convicted killer.
Within three weeks of Clyde’s arrival at the Tuckers’ home in Colorado Springs, Zach went from petting his dog to wrapping his arms around his mother. It was a stunning moment, one of many to follow. The boy who once grimaced and whined at any skin-to-skin contact had learned the warmth of touching from a dog.
Zach and Clyde’s story is one of redemption — of how a rescue dog, a prisoner and a boy learned empathy and understanding from one another.
Zach’s parents had run out of ideas and were skeptical when they stepped into the visiting room at the high-security Sterling prison in June 2011. They were just desperate enough to explore inmate Christopher Vogt’s hunch that he could help their son emerge from his shell.
In prison, Vogt learned to train service dogs for disabled people, and over the course of a decade he has trained scores of dogs that have lived, one at a time, in a cage in his cell.
He later read books about autism and eventually won permission from prison officials to try to train dogs for kids.
The experiment has been a shining success, said Debi Stevens, director of the Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program.
Since Tucker took Clyde home,
Read more: Colorado prison-trained dog turned autistic boy’s life around – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/animalnews/ci_24989997/colorado-prison-trained-dog-turned-autistic-boys-life#ixzz2rQQtoLD1 Kirk Mitchell.