Kyan and his service dog Mikey have been training together for two weeks. (Contributed)

Autism service dog to graduate in Kelowna

The graduation ceremony will take place at the Orchard Mall in Kelowna on Thursday

An autism service dog team will officially graduate from B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs in Kelowna this week.

A young boy named Kyan will graduate with his new autism support dog, Mikey, after two weeks of working one-on-one with autism support instructor Michelle Murray.

READ MORE: Province to invest $2 million for mental health programs

B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs breeds, raises and trains autism support dogs that are provided to children ages 3-10 with moderate to profound autism.

These certified support dogs are provided, along with training and aftercare support, at no cost to families for the working life of the dog, typically for eight years.

For Kyan’s family, an autism support dog means safety and security but is also valuable support for his interacting with other children.

“Some kids with ASD are lonely and have difficulty making friends,” said Kyan’s father Rick.

“Mikey is so lovable and Kyan is warming up to him quite quickly.

“We see him and Kyan being best buds and also being a great primer for other kids to meet and interact with Kyan.”

Mikey will be the family’s second autism support dog from B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs.

Kyan’s brother Dylan was placed with an autism support dog, Logan, back in 2008 as the organization’s second graduate in B.C.

“Our kids were tirelessly supported and protected by Logan who was the nucleus of our pod everywhere we went,” Rick continued.

“Mikey has huge paws to fill and in just a short week we are reminded of the magic of these special dogs and amazing program.”

Kyan and his father Rick were on hand at the Orchard Shopping Centre on Thursday to share the impact of receiving an autism support dog.

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