Before she got an assistance dog named Ryder, Ruth Gregory thought many things were out of her reach. The 23-year-old has mast cell activation syndrome, which causes chronic pain and requires her to visit hospitals often.
Moreover, Ruth also has severe anxiety and autism. Because of all this, the young woman was dependent on her mom, the only person she trusted fully.
The unpredictability of hospital visits was particularly stressful for the young woman. She never knew how long she had to spend in confinement. Sometimes, her doctors would deviate from their scheduled appointment, which only added to Ruth’s agitation.
The discordant sounds and glaring lights of the hospital also unsettled her. Thus, although these visits were necessary for medical purposes, they also left the young woman traumatized and often triggered meltdowns.
During that time, Ruth prayed long and hard not just to get well but also to meet a friend who would stick by her no matter what. Her wish was soon granted in the form of Ryder.
Ruth and her mom had previously heard of assistance dogs for individuals with autism, but they often went to children. Fortunately, the organization Autism Dogs CIC sets no age limit, so anyone on the spectrum can partner with a trained canine.
The Labrador made an impact as soon as he came into his new partner’s life. Ryder helps his fur mom calm down and sleep better by pressing his body against hers or lying on top of her. The canine also comforts Ruth when she’s having a meltdown.
Before, the anxiety brought on by hospital visits rendered Ruth unable to communicate with anyone verbally. However, by merely having Ryder by her side, the young woman found herself talking to her nurses and doctors for the first time in her life.
This newfound ability extended beyond the hospital, too. Ruth found it difficult even to talk to her family members, but her assistance dog helped her find her voice and express her thoughts freely.
Best of all, Ryder gave the young woman freedom. Previously, Ruth could not go anywhere without her mom, but she now lives independently in an apartment with her service dog. It’s a significant achievement for someone who never imagined she would ever be on her own!
Today, the young woman is paying it forward by working as a dog trainer for Autism Dogs CIC. Seeing her living her best life with the Lab has also inspired other individuals on the spectrum to get their own assistance canine. Watch Ruth and Ryder’s heartwarming bond here: