On Sunday, we staffed the Delta Society/Pet Partners booth at the 5th annual Autism Walk on campus. Thousands of people on campus, hundreds of people walking through the tent where our booth was, probably one or two hundred stopping to play with him. One mother brought her 8- or 9-year-old son to see him. This boy was ambulatory, but pretty unresponsive, not talking, not making eye or face contact, with his fists up by his ears. His mother was kneeling, tugging at his arm, trying to get him to squat down and pet Cuddley, who was sitting there. Suddenly, the kid just collapsed right onto my dog, just sort of let go and sank right down on him, pointy elbows straight into his back.
My boy just sat there, a big, fluffy statue. Not a muscle moved. He didn't startle, he didn't flinch, he didn't react at all. The mom helped her kid up and they walked on and I gave Tall Boy a huge hug and told him what a fantastic boy he was. I admit I was surprised he was so good, when he has so little experience visiting, much less with a population of kids like this.
He was super good with these kids, even the non-ambulatory, completely unresponsive ones. He sat next to the wheelchairs or strollers and let the parents try to pet him with their kids' hands. He did relieve his stress by digging into the blanket I'd put down on the ground, tugging on his leash, or leaping into the air when no one was around (but he was probably bored, too). But as soon as someone approached to pet him, he sat down perfectly still and wagged his tail and wiggled his butt, but that's all. He's got superb therapy dog instincts.
Some photos from Saturday at the bookstore: