Dolly is looking for a home for a year. (Contributed)

Foster family needed for Dolly

Maple Ridge pup training to be assistance dog

Are you willing to train, care, feed and love an adorable puppy, then say goodbye after a year?

Then you may want to talk to Darlene McKeown about Dolly, a 12-week-old labradoodle.

“You can see it in her face, almost like it’s her destiny and she knows it,” McKeown said of Dolly.

Dolly’s destiny lies with the Assistance Service Dogs B.C., an organization that trains puppies to become assistance dogs for autistic children. The calming effect of a canine friend can be invaluable to children trying to go to school or get out while facing the challenges of being autistic.

McKeown has three dogs herself and no longer has room for Dolly. So she’s seeking a foster family for Dolly for a year.

A foster family’s role is to feed, train, care and love the dog until it’s just over a year old. After that, it goes to the Assistance Service Dogs of B.C. for a few months of intense training, after which they’re matched with a family with an autistic child.

“What we teach are social skills, how to get along with other dogs, people, children,” said McKeown.

“For the first few months, she’s almost like your pet. You don’t really need to anything,” McKeown added.

She’s already taking care of Bruno since last year.

Making a pet a daily part of your life for a year, then having to give him or her up, could be a tough assignment. But McKeown said the parting process is easier than expected.

She’d had to do that before.

“It wasn’t difficult because there’s more [in the future] and they’re going to a good cause.”

McKeown added that the dog’s name isn’t permanent and the new family can change it, without too much objection from Dolly.

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