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> Company donates fence to Whitby family in need
The donation is part of "Project Breathe™" by Invisible Fence® Brand which aims to equip every fire station in Canada, the United States and the U.K with pet oxygen masks.
Company donates fence to Whitby family in need
Boundary will ensure safety of service dog obtained through Autism Dog Services.
ASHBURN -- For the Howe family, Winter arrived on the first day of summer.
Bill and Barbara Howe received the two-year-old yellow Labrador retriever through Autism Dog Services for their nine-year-old daughter, Ellie, on June 20 after a year-and-a-half application process.
At 18 months old, Ellie was diagnosed with autism -- a neurological disorder that has left her with communication and behavioural challenges.
"She is non-verbal so she'll throw temper tantrums and will not walk hand-in-hand, which makes it difficult to travel with her in public places," explains Ms. Howe, whose family lives in the hamlet of Ashburn in north Whitby.
Winter is specially trained to help Ellie with her anxieties, assist in modifying behaviours and also aid with her safety and security. The dog, which costs about $18,000, will keep an eye on Ellie and a fitted vest and tether system allows it to stay by her side at all times.
"We're trying to teach Ellie that when she's out in public, she should hold onto the leash and walk with Winter ... so hopefully in time, she'll know that wherever Winter goes, she has to go," Ms. Howe says, adding that the family was also concerned about how to keep the dog from straying from their unfenced one-acre country lot.
When local company Invisible Fence of Durham Region heard through Autism Dog Services about the family's efforts to keep the dog secure on the property, the firm offered to install a fence free of charge.
A wire was recently installed in the ground around the home to create an invisible boundary that emits a radio frequency sound that only Winter can hear. Trainers teach the dog the boundaries and avoidance behaviours. The cost for such a system at the Howe property would have been about $1,600.
"We were totally overwhelmed and couldn't believe it," says Ms. Howe.
She hopes the fence will give the family peace of mind while Winter helps Ellie with her independence.
"The invisible fence will keep the dog from straying and being hit by a car or getting lost and the dog will always be aware of where Ellie is," she says.
John Welsh, owner and installer for Invisible Fence of Durham Region, says the company was honoured to help.
"We're in the business of keeping people's dogs and cats safe at home and when those (animals) are used as service pets or companion pets, we're proud to be able to provide that added security."
So far, the family has paid for half of Winter's costs and continues to work toward raising the remainder of the funds. Anyone who wishes to make a donation to the cause can visit the Autism Dog Services website and click on "Donate Now." Click on the Canada Helps button and mention Whitby This Week or Ellie's name in the instruction box.