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Service Dog Snuggles With Autistic Boy Who Doesn’t Like Being Touched

Five-year-old Kai waited two years for Tornado, an Autism Assistance Dog trained by 4 Paws For Ability.

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Tornado takes a break while Kai leans on him. Kai’s mother is overcome with joy and happiness that Kai, who doesn’t like being touched, has freely opened up to Tornado. Via Love What Matters/Facebook
John Virata

A 5-year-old autistic boy who did not like to be touched by people, including his own mother, recently had his life changed. He got an autism service dog who, in just a few shared moments, gave the boy what no person could: the capability for him to freely hug another being.

Tornado came to Kai via 4 Paws For Ability, a non-profit organization that trains and places highly skilled autism assistance dogs with people like Kai. Kai traveled from Japan where the American boy lives with his family, and after many hours flying across the Pacific Ocean and several stops in several states, Kai and his family made it to Ohio where Tornado was waiting for him, according to the 4 Paws For Ability Facebook page.

We know the last post about Kai and Tornado made a lot of people cry, but maybe this video of their first moments together will make you smile. Or maybe you’ll still cry and that’s ok too.

We’re so happy Kai and Tornado’s story has touched so many people. But we want you to know, this is the story of a lot of people – the people that came to 4 Paws before Kai, and the people that will come after. It’s the story of staff, who have worked long hours and holidays and weekends to provide care and training for these special dogs. It’s about our volunteers and our donors, without whom none of this would have happened.

And now it’s a story about the world. A world who said there is love and hope and beauty out there and I want to be a part of it. Thank you.

Posted by 4 Paws For Ability on Thursday, October 20, 2016

When he first got a glimpse of the dog, he could not contain his joy as he ran to meet with the dog. He was super excited to see and interact with Tornado for the first time, and his mother was overcome with happiness.

“As a mother, I have seen countless challenging and painful moments my son has encountered and cried countless more. Yesterday however, I cried for a different reason. It is a feeling that is indescribable,” Shanna Niehaus wrote on the 4 Paws For Ability Facebook page.

“It’s worth every fight for services for my son, every diagnosis, every new provider, every dollar spent, every paper filled out, every school meeting, every shed tear, every step forward, every step back, and every wonder of the unknown future. Somehow because of this – because of Tornado – I know everything will be okay.”

Tornado underwent nearly two years of training to become what 4 Paws For Ability calls an Autism Assistance Dog. The dogs the organization trains can help in many instances that face children with autism, including behavior disruption, sleep issues, and the dogs can even track their child partners if they wander off and some are trained to discourage their child partner from wandering off, according to the 4 Paws For Ability website.

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  • Wonderful for all!!❤? …Happiness

    Sharon Staley October 23, 2016 6:08 am Reply
  • Why does the dog have a cord around its mouth..I find that very’s a gentle service dog..

    Elise Camus - ikeda November 10, 2016 1:36 am Reply
    • It is not a cord, it is part of a head harness. There are different styles, one is the Halti, another (which I think Tornado might be wearing) is called the Gentle Leader. The principle is that where the dog’s nose goes, its body follows. It is not constricting, allows the dog to eat or drink, and is NOT a muzzle. The main benefit of a head harness is that it cuts down on pulling in a very humane way, as opposed to a choke or pinch collar.

      Fran Rudy November 10, 2016 2:10 am Reply
      • Those types of harnesses are still not good for dogs, regardless of how gentle you might say it is. This is not a humane way to harness such a helpful animal doing good work.

        Lucille Carter November 10, 2016 4:10 am Reply
        • As a Veterinarian I’ve suggested the Gentle Leader harness hundreds of times. It is not a muzzle. There is nothing negative about it

          Eileen Rowan VMD November 10, 2016 4:51 am Reply
        • We have 2 Goldens and our 95 lb George walks 2-3 miles with us each day while wearing a gentle lead. He has since he was a pup. This gentle leader has a clip under the chin strap that attaches to the leash. In the video they just left the halter on while letting the dog greet the family. When attached, the head leads and the body follows. It is humane, much more so than any neck or choke collar.
          Beautiful story.

          Tami Taylor November 10, 2016 7:17 am Reply
    • The “Gentle Leader” is part of a harness and it does not hurt the dog in anyway. All Guide dogs for the Blind uses this while they are training to restrain them from pulling in a very humane manner.

      Cynthia November 10, 2016 10:31 am Reply
  • Such a Beautiful Loving story !! Every Child with Disabilities should be so Lucky !! God Bless them all !!

    Trina Hawkins November 10, 2016 1:59 am Reply
  • God bless all the people who work for 4 paws for ability. If the world concentrated on useful things like this instead of bashing one another, it would truly be a more beautiful place.
    Thank you for caring and helping others!

    judi raphaeli November 10, 2016 2:37 am Reply
  • Absolutely heartwarming. As a former K-9 law enforcement officer, I have worked with many dogs and different breeds, but if found my favorite to be the golden retriever. This story truly made my eyes leak.

    Keith November 10, 2016 2:59 am Reply
  • What a wonderful story. Service dogs never cease to amaze me!.

    Christine November 10, 2016 3:38 am Reply
  • Thank you Jesus for blessing a boy and his dog.

    anna November 10, 2016 6:08 am Reply
  • LOL, I saw so much alarming behavior/ interaction occurring in the video that I’m really glad I read the story first to know Tornado is a trained service dog! (Caution to anyone who may now think it’s ok for a child to run up to any Golden Retiever, or other dog: please supervise for safe interaction!) I’m not sure why Elise and Lucille feel opposed to a head lead, as they are comparable to a halter for a horse: lead with the head and the body follows. It’s wonderful dogs are being conditioned with traits they already possess to aid people in more ways. Thank you, 4 Paws for Ability and CCI (another group) for all you do! Blessings to the families, too!

    McBean November 10, 2016 7:07 am Reply
  • I thought it was a halti myself (part of it hidden by the dog’s ears.) A halti is much better and kinder than a regular collar as it doesn’t choke and gives you more control. It is what I use for my standard poodle and it works marvellously.
    A beautiful story..

    Tonya November 10, 2016 4:20 pm Reply

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