Saint Francis Service Dogs: Team Ian and Archie

It's Barks 'n' Red 2021 with with Saint Francis Service Dogs, today we meet the great story of Ian and Archie. Please visit the Saint Francis website for more information and ways to donate!

Ian has Autism, which for him, means that his senses are in overdrive. Lights can be blinding, the noises of everyday life can become cacophonous. For people with Autism, service dogs provide a helpful focus to redirect attention from overstimulation; they can go for help when necessary; and they perform a task called “pressuring,” where they apply their weight onto the legs or chest of their partners to help them calm down.


We met Ian and his family through our work with Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Centers where we have placed two facility dogs. Ian’s mom, Silvia, contacted us to see if we could find a teammate for Ian to help him navigate through his overstimulation and motivate him to actively participate in daily living activities, such as cleaning up. When a partner’s age or disability prevent them from handling their own service dog, a third party handler is the primary handler of the dog. Silvia would serve as the handler for their service dog, and so, we began the matching process with the whole family in mind.


When Ian and Archie had their matching interview, our training team knew almost immediately that this was the match. Archie was trained by our staff trainer, Debbie. He was known around the office as an extremely lovable, eager to please, and goofy boy. Ian and Archie together have a lightness and bond that cannot be manufactured, and he fit in perfectly with Silvia and the rest of the family as well.


Silvia recently told us, “We love having Archie in our daily lives. His energy and company could not have come in a better time. Our lifestyle has been impacted like everyone else with the COVID-19 stay-home mandate, and Archie has been a great support during this time of isolation. Archie has been the only constant we have had during moments of volatility and change, adapting quickly to the entire family and schedule changes. He supports daily routine tasks for Ian that otherwise would be difficult or impossible to accomplish.”