By Miriam Mas, Program Lead & Team Admin, CNIB Buddy Dogs & Ambassador Dogs
In October, Ruggles, a CNIB Buddy Dog travelled from Ontario to British Columbia to meet his new partner after Landon's parents applied for a Buddy Dog for their son, who is blind and on the autism spectrum.
A Buddy Dog is partnered with a child living with sight loss to give the child an opportunity to care for a dog and make it easier to transition into a guide dog partnership in the future.
"Finding out about the Buddy Dog Program was a blessing,” says Esther, Landon’s mom. “Ruggles is a perfect fit, not only for Landon, but for our whole family."
Placing a Buddy Dog in a home typically involves spending three days with the family to help them become familiar with the dog, the dog’s routine and the essential training commands to continue practicing.
On the second day of placement, Landon went to his room, where he often goes to get space from the world. Without hesitation, Ruggles got up and followed Landon upstairs to his room to lay with him. This moment marked the beginning of their special bond.
"We are extremely happy with how Ruggles is settling in and how well Landon is doing with him,” says Adrianah, Landon’s older sister. “Ruggles is very intelligent – he knew his job right away."
Landon enjoys playing fetch with Ruggles and hearing him run after the ball, and the pair love to play chase.
“It’s amazing to watch Ruggles walk by Landon’s side, or sit calmly when Landon gives him a cuddle,” says Esther. “Ruggles brings so much joy to Landon’s day.”
Landon is quite proud of himself when he feeds Ruggles and enjoys the routine of pouring the food in the bowl, telling Ruggles to sit and wait, and then blowing the whistle for him to know he can start eating. Landon feels a sense of accomplishment when he makes sure his Buddy Dog is fed while under his care.
“Ruggles can tell when Landon is having a hard day and will often try to cheer him up, either by sitting next to him or nudging him with his nose. Ruggles brings a sense of calm to Landon and when he lays beside him, Landon calls it ‘peace and calm'.”