Earlier this week we all heard the story out of California of a “Santa and Elf” that were more like grinches, as they denied a child and her service dog of seeing Santa.
I would like to share what happened to my daughter and her service dog in training Luke a Standard Poodle. Ara has Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, MI and has some physical health issues. Luke is being trained to assist her with her disabilities. I would like to note that in our state service dogs in training are treated just like service dogs.
We went to Rimrock Mall to see Santa. I knew we would probably need to make a few trips to make sure Ara was comfortable and it was also the first time Luke has seen Santa. One the first trip Luke was not to sure about him and just gave him a sniff, Santa was great and told us he loved dogs. Ara and her little sister talked to Santa but were both a little shy. On the second trip to see Santa, Luke was very happy to see him and Ara even asked to sit on Santa’s lap and told him she wanted a Barbie Elsa (little sister was still a bit shy). On both these trips Santa’s helpers asked questions about Luke, his training and Ara and I was happy to share.
On our third time (picture time) the line was very long and Ara was beginning to get overwhelmed. Luke did some blocks for her and some redirection. Ara, Molly and Luke were all very excited to see Santa. Luke lead Ara up to Santa were he then placed his head in Santa’s lap and tried to sneak Santa some doggie kisses. We got everyone in place to take pictures I put Luke in a sit stay and went to the photographer. It took a little while to get a good picture because Ara was having a hard time with her hands being near her face and being very ridged. We got a good shot and Santa started asking the girls what they wanted while daddy and I picked out pictures. Luke broke his stay to help Ara get down and then nudged her as she started to zone out. I told Santa and the helpers how much I appreciated all the time they had spent with our family and how much it meant to us. Santa came over to Ara and told her he had a very special surprise for her. He opened his hand and there was a golden sleigh bell, he told her that Santa loved her and that the bell came off his sleigh. Her face lit up and she clutched it to her as hard as she could and told him Thank you. At this point I am trying very hard not to cry. As we left Santa to buy our pictures Ara zoned out for a bit, she was going into overload. The helpers handed us our pictures and told us no charge and to come back anytime to visit again with Santa. Both girls also got reindeer hats and lollipops.