The Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland does amazing work all over Ireland helping Autistic children and their families. They are always looking for people to Foster dogs and help with other aspects of the organisation – such as boarding and fund raising – so we chatted to Annemarie who Foster puppies and helps train them before they go to their new homes. She gave us all the details of what it’s like to be involved with such an amazing organisation.
What Work Does Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland Do?
AADI – Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland is a national charity that provides highly trained assistance dogs for children with autism and their families. Their dogs are specially trained to provide safety, independence, and companionship to children who would otherwise live in a very isolated world.
These dogs help to transform the lives of children and their families as it allows them to go places that they otherwise may have stopped going. A trip to the shop can be extremely stressful for a child with Autism and having an assistance dog makes these types of everyday activities possible.
How Did You Get Involved With AADI?
I saw an ad on Facebook looking for foster puppy carers. It takes up to 2 years to train each dog, so initially, the pup is placed with a Puppy Foster Carer. They are all volunteers and bring up the pup for the first 12 months ensuring it is well socialised so that it can become a suitable assistance dog.
Jamie our 9-week old puppy comes everywhere with us so that we can get him used to as many different places as possible, for example, shops, cafes, cinema, the beach, schools, the city, the train, the bus, anywhere really that a child would go.
He also needs to be used to meeting lots of people, children, and other animals too. He needs to get used to different sounds like noise in the city, cars, music etc. He also needs to learn basic training and how to walk properly on the lead and how to behave in the house, shops, cafes etc.
Tell Us About Your Experience with The Fostering Process?
The fostering process is quite simple. I rang the AADI office in Mallow and said I was interested in becoming a Foster Carer. I asked what was involved with fostering, I was given all the information and then a supervisor came to my home. We talked about my family, health, the other animals I have, if I worked and my garden. Then my house and garden were inspected. After a few days, I was told all was fine and I would be getting a puppy in a few weeks. First Bailey came into our lives and home and now we have Jamie.
My experience so far is great. It’s hard work as it’s like having a baby/toddler in the house. It takes work and lots of patience but it is so rewarding. A foster carer needs to be at home and to treat the puppy like a member of the family, but also be strict with its training.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Fostering?
The Pros are that it’s a puppy and nearly everyone loves puppies. It’s rewarding seeing them do things you have been training them to do. Knowing what they are working towards and being a part of their journey and getting to make friends with other foster carers
The cons are letting them go when their time is up with you. It’s sad as you have bonded with the puppy, but to know that they are going to their forever family is fab.
What Support Do You Get From The AADI?
The support is brilliant, help is always at the other end of the phone if I have a query or problem. A supervisor also comes to my home to check in with us and the puppy and we also do puppy classes. Everything is provided by AADI for the puppy – food, bedding, vet bills etc.
If Someone Can’t Foster Then How Else Can They Help The AADI?
If you can’t foster you can help with Fundraising, All money comes from fundraising and voluntary donations, so volunteers are vital to the success and growth of AADI.
It costs €15,000 to train each dog and all their money is raised through fundraising events.
If you can’t foster full time then AADI are looking for long term boarders, short term boarders, and evening and weekend boarders.
Long Term Boarders
This is a similar role to fostering but for a shorter period of time of up to 6 months. Also, the pups will vary in age.
Short Term Boarders
As a short-term boarder, you would provide holiday cover from a weekend to 3 weeks at a time.
Evening and Weekend Boarders
If you are available evenings and weekends to mind the dogs when they are not at work this can be a great option to cover short time periods. You do need to live in the Blarney area to take part in this so dogs can be dropped off and collected.
Where Can Someone Get In Touch If They Want To Help Out?
You can get in touch at this address
TEXT “AUTISM” TO 50300 TO DONATE €4 TO AADI
100% of text cost goes to autism assistance dogs Ireland. some providers apply vat which means a minimum of €3.26 will go to the charity.