Remington Christoph & Autism Assistance Dog Candy
By: Patti Miller
Chocolate is often associated with candy, right? Well in this case, Candy is a type of chocolate that isn’t edible. Candy is a lovable, outgoing, energetic two-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever that has been paired with Remington (Remy) Christoph and his family from Victoria, Minn. Remy is a loveable, energetic seven-year-old who has autism. At an early age mom, dad and other family members noticed Remy’s language skills were not developing as well as they should have and his lack of eye contact was concerning. His diagnosis sent his mom searching for a way to not only help Remy but their family as well!
An acquaintance of the Christoph’s recommended Can Do Canines and suggested that they do some research to find out if a service dog would be helpful. After a three-year wait, almost to the day, the Christoph’s met Candy!
As luck would have it, Candy is a perfect match for Remy! Both are high energy, love to be outside and chase after balls. Candy does not currently attend school with Remy but she does wait for him when he comes home. “Remy looks forward to coming home after school to see and take care of Candy,” said his mom Nicole. “It’s important for Remy to have household responsibilities just like his sister,” she said. Remy is able to give Candy commands such as sit, wait, and go, so that she may eat. This simple activity enables Remy to use and develop his fine motor skills, improves his vocabulary and contributes to his sense of accomplishment.
Candy provides much more for the Christoph family than meets the eye. Candy has given them back their freedom. A trip to get milk at the store may seem like a simple task but a child with autism can become overwhelmed by stimulations and often times a meltdown results. With Candy tethered to Remy, she is able to keep him close to mom and dad and also provide a way to comfort him if he comes agitated when errands take just a little too long. They continue to find ways to be more active and look for activities they can do as a family with Candy.
Not only does Candy provide safety for Remy but she also helps refocus his energy. Twice a day, or more often if possible, Candy and Remy spend time throwing and chasing a ball. A little boy, a ball and a dog – a classic image of Americana! The experience Nicole says, “Has been amazing!” She has nothing but praise for the Puppy Raisers and those that cared for and trained Candy in the Prison Program. Waiting for three years to receive Candy was often challenging but the rewards are paying off daily now.
As Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons hit song, “Candy Girl” goes, “…been a-searching all this big wide world; Now I’ve finally found my candy girl…with huggin’ and kissin’ and lovin’, she’s mine, mine, mine!” The Christoph family and Remy have their very own Candy girl to hug, kiss and love for a very long time!
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home – Timera Cyr
Special Thanks – The Inmate Handlers at the Federal Correctional Institution, Duluth; Sara Vander Lugt
Dog source – Rob and Denise Babcock