Pensacola, Fla. (March 2, 2023) – Children on the autism spectrum have the comfort of a furry friend thanks to facility dog Fenwick, who has joined the autism care team at Lakeview Center. Fenwick is a 3-year-old Black Labrador/Golden Retriever provided free of charge by Canine Companions.
Fenwick completed two-years of daily, specialized training before coming to Lakeview Center. As a facility dog, Fenwick assists his handler, Caroline Page, during her work as a behavior analyst. Facility dogs differ from therapy dogs or service animals in that they are trained beyond the role of a comfort animal. They receive special certification through a national standardized practical test and return for follow-up assessments on a periodic basis. Facility dog handlers like Caroline must also complete a two-week training course.
Fenwick can respond to 45 different commands. His calm and sensitive manner is the ideal temperament for working with children with special needs. He helps children develop communication and social skills, and he provides sensory stimulation through games and activities. Perhaps the most important task he carries out is to provide unconditional love and attention to children coping with anxiety and restlessness during therapy sessions.
“Life for children on the autism spectrum can be challenging, but having a friend like Fenwick on your side makes therapy a whole lot easier,” said Caroline Page, Fenwick’s handler. “Fenwick has become a favorite team member among clients and staff. His transformative interactions with the children make him an invaluable member of our autism care team at Lakeview Center.”