Super Dog
By Salina Mathisen, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr., October 1999     

Julie Shaw, an obedience instructor, was unable to locate a Service Dog for a child as young as her son Dylan. So, she found and trained Golden Retriever Faith for the job. Dylan, of course, wanted to be involved, and became a trainer and trainee too. Actually, Dylan's first independent steps were shaped with the clicker, with Faith at his side. Super Dogs make Super Friends as shown her with Faith & Dylan.



Faith follows Dylan's tricycle in case he needs a nudge.

How would you like to have a dog that helps you clean your room? Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it. Six-year-old Dylan Shaw has a dog that can. Dylan's furry friend can also pull his wheelchair, take his dinner dishes from the table to the sink, turn off the lights and tuck him into bed.

This amazing dog's name is Faith. She is a 2-year-old Golden Retriever trained by Dylan's mom to be a Service Dog. A Service Dog helps people do things they have trouble doing by themselves. Dylan has cerebral palsy, so his legs don't work well. Since Dylan walks with crutches, crossing the room to get a toy is difficult. But Faith can do it for him. Dylan just shines a laser at whatever he wants to play with. Faith picks up the object with her mouth, brings it to Dylan and drops it in his lap!

Faith is also learning the names of certain objects such as cup, book, shoe and crutch. Then Dylan can tell her, "Go find shoe," and she will fetch it. Dylan loves when Faith brings things to him and plays ball with him. But retrieving isn't all Faith does. When Dylan rides his tricycle, he sometimes has a hard time keeping the pedals going, so Faith walks behind him. If the tricycle stops, she puts on front feet on it and gives him a push to get him going again!

A little pull from a pal keeps Dylan going.

Faith knows a lot of words, such as shoe, book & crutch.


Faith is Dylan's best friend. They play together, sleep together and go to the doctor together. Part of Faith's training is learning she needs to stay near Dylan most of the time. But that's not a problem, because that is exactly where she wants to be.

Faith enjoys her work and is always eager to learn new things. Sometimes she is a little too eager. One day Dylan's mom taught Faith to put a cup in the kitchen sink. She quickly learned to put the cup in the sink, but later that day Mom found Dylan's shoe in there, too!

As Faith grew stronger, she learned to pull Dylan's wheelchair and open doors. With Faith's help, Dylan even learned to stand and walk with crutches. Faith loves helping to be Dylan's legs. With her at his side, Dylan's smile -- and his future -- are a whole lot brighter.

Dogs help a lot of different people. There are Guide Dogs for people who cannot see, Hearing Dogs for people who cannot hear and Service Dogs for people who cannot walk or have other disabilities. Unlike regular pets, assistance dogs are allowed in all public places, such as grocery stores, restaurants, malls and buses. Assistance dogs are not pets. They are highly trained working dogs with very important jobs.