A 5-year-old boy with autism was getting ready to meet the service dog he’s been waiting for for over a year, and HumanKind captured the very special moment on camera.
Little Kai Niehaus is from Japan and in order to be eligible for a service dog, his family had to fill out medical forms, write letters, and even send videos of Kai in various social situations. Once Kai was finally accepted for a service dog, his family had to raise $15,000 to have the dog trained by 4 Paws for Ability.
4 Paws for Ability is an Ohio organization that places dogs with children with disabilities and veterans who have lost the use of limbs or hearing. Each of the service dogs is born at their facility and carefully bred by training which begins at birth and continues until the dog is 12-16 months old.
Kai’s mom, Shanna, explains that she held fundraising events, auctions of her personal artwork, and did everything she could to raise the funds. Luckily, her hard work paid off and once Tornado, the golden lab, was born on Aug. 25, 2015, he immediately began training for skills necessary for Kai’s well-being.
Tornado was trained for companionship, behavior disruption, and tethering. “If we’re in a public setting and Kai is feeling overwhelmed or anxious or exhibiting less than desirable behaviors, Tornado can intercept behaviors for him so it doesn’t reach the point of endangering himself,” explains Shanna.
Once Tornado’s training was complete, the Niehaus family traveled all the way from Japan to Ohio meet the dog, and Shanna explains she was nervous for the two to meet. While she hoped the connection would be immediate, she wouldn’t know until that very moment. To her surprise, just hours after Kai met Tornado, Kai laid on the dog and felt his heartbeat. “He laid on top of him which is a sensory thing,” Shanna explained.
She was so taken back by the significance of this moment, that she began to cry, but covered her mouth so she didn’t make a sound and distract Kai. “I couldn’t believe what I had hoped would happen was actually happening,” Shanna said.
She explains that her son always wanted a connection with someone, but he doesn’t know how to get it. “He’s wanted to give and share and receive from someone else, and Tornado was the avenue that unlocked it,” Shanna says.
Watch the special moment Kai and Tornado finally meet in the video below and please SHARE this story with your friends and family on Facebook!
[Featured Image Credit: Humankind]