By Ava Rose, 4 Grade, R. Roger Rowe Elementary School
My pet is important to the family because my brother is autistic. It’s a disability. Let me explain. My brother needs help with life sometimes. His brain functions differently than mainstream kids like my friends and me. We have a dog that helps my brother make friends because that is hard for him. Her name is Lexie. She’s a yellow Lab. Lexie is a rare kind of dog, but I am not talking about breeds of dogs. I mean that she was specially trained to help people with disabilities or wounded soldiers. My mom and brother went to the special service dog training school and had to qualify to be able to get a service dog. They were matched with the highest-level service dog – which was Lexie! They took lots and lots of training to get Lexie.
Lexie had lots and lots of training, too. She is a service dog that was trained by a prisoner in prison everyday for almost all of the day. Service dog trainers met with the prisoner every week to give tests and teach new things to the prisoner to make Lexie do. Then Lexie finished her training at the service dog school in a different state. She was very smart but there was a lot to learn and be tested on so it took almost a year and a half for her to be ready to graduate.
Some of her training was that she was taught to do “tricks.” These mostly are really commands that do a real service for the disabled person but some are just for fun. Some of her basic tricks are “Sit,” “Lay down,” “Stand” and “Shake hands.” Some of her tricks that most dogs can’t do are “Fetch,” “Speak,” “Leave it,” “Push,” “Pull,” “Side,” “Under,” “Touch,” “Rest” and “Heel.” Some fun commands are “Clean up” (for toys), “Roll over,” “Take a bow” and “Bang” (for playing dead). My mom’s favorite, though, is “Achoo” (she gets you a tissue!). She can open regular doors with her teeth and push the handicap button at store entrances with her paws to make the door open. She can stop my brother from running if he is heading into danger. It makes me proud that she is such an obedient dog and smart, too.
Lexie can also go in places where normal pets can’t go in because Lexie is trained for Carson, my brother, so he won’t get lost. This is an important job. She takes it seriously. She keeps Carson safe and helps to keep him calm. She can go on planes and lay under the seats there. She flies with us sometimes to far away places. It’s the same for restaurants. She lies very quietly under the table. She is trained to not eat any food dropped near her. Lexie will not beg for food either. She will only eat food if we give her the command “Okay.” She also never takes food or treats from a stranger or anyone else but our family. It keeps her training strong and is good for her anyway because we give her only good dog food.
I know we have Lexie because she is for my brother to help his disability and our family, but I love her, too. Sometimes it’s really hard to do things outside our house, and we can’t even do some things because of my brother’s disability, but Lexie has been there to help as much as she can so that sometimes we actually CAN go out to festivals or parks or fun places. I am grateful that she helps him stay calm and safe because that means she helps me, too, so I can go do fun things with my family. We would have to stay home a lot more without her. She makes me proud too when she does speeches with my brother and mom and school or club meetings. Sometimes I help in them, too.
One of the best things is I know she has a special love for me, and I can see it when I pet her and she cuddles with me. She has beautiful, kind brown eyes when she looks at me. She’s much more than a service dog. She is a very important member of the family with all the love she gives and all the love we have for her. I have many more pets, but none of them are as special as Lexie.
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