Day #122 – Animals Belong OUTSIDE, Right?!?!?!

I grew up on a farm.  If you grew up on a farm, I bet that these characteristics sound familiar.

I work hard.
I use real butter.
I rarely sit down.
I have a list of projects.
I worry about the weather.
I have a weird love of stray cats.
I still can’t really sleep past 6 AM.
I spend summer afternoons weeding.
I can still recite the 4-H & FFA pledges.
I make almost everything from scratch.
I used to get sent to the barn to get milk.
I still like it when a calf sucks on my hand.
I like swings and trees and creeks and moss.
I call the nightly meal supper; the noon meal is dinner.
I know the difference between farrow to finish and feed.
I get antsy when people who have never lived on a farm talk farm policy.
I have a plethora of sayings like, “Fair?  The fair is in July” and “An empty sock can’t stand up on its own.”
I panic when I see livestock ‘out’ – not because I’m scared of the animal, but because I’m afraid the farmer will lose profit.

Most of all though?


Let me say it again….


Then this happened…


Yes…that’s cute.  But –


White Sox the puppy joined us last May.  She’s not a fancy dog – she’s half black labrador and half St. Bernard.  Yes, St. Bernard – we do everything big at our house…it’s like Texas.

Sox almost didn’t come home with us.  It was a 45 minute drive.  She started crying at five minutes. Tucker started crying at 10 – he just couldn’t bear to take the puppy from her mama.  Between the two of them I thought I may lose my mind.  She stopped crying long before him.  In fact – a couple minutes after she realized he was crying she snuggled onto his chest and into his neck just like that picture above.

I thought I may be in trouble, but I stood my ground.


The previous owners told us the best thing for her would be to stay inside for the first 6-8 weeks to be socialized – this would decrease the amount of jumping and she would learn to respect and follow our rules.  I wasn’t happy…but…

Fine.  ANIMALS BELONG OUTSIDE…after 8 weeks…

Then it happened.  I read about the connection that happens between children who have autism and dogs.  Our neighbors and very good friends actually train dogs for children with autism and Veterans with PTSD. (check them out at  Tucker’s 4th grade teacher has a son on the spectrum and they were able to get a service dog for him – I knew these trained dogs did wonders for people.

In the 2014 March/April issue of the Journal of Pediatriac Nursing,  Gretchen Carlisle found that an overwhelming number of children with autism bonded strongly to their dog (like…94% overwhelming).  These parents described their children as having increases in positive social skills and a better handle on sensory difficulties.

I’m reading, reading, reading and then….”Children with autism may especially benefit from interacting with dogs, which can provide unconditional, nonjudgmental love and companionship to the children.”

I read that study after a month of having Sox inside.



Then Tucker was having a rough day at week six – he ran down the stairs to his room.  Generally, I give him a few minutes to cool off before we talk about whatever it was that set him off.  As he went…the puppy chased him.  I went to his room and found her, beside him, on his bed.  He looked at me with tears and said, “It’s okay mom – Sox fixed it.  I just need a break and she’s here with me.  You can go back upstairs, I love you.”


I repeated to myself while climbing the stairs, “Animals belong outside.  Animals belong outside.  Animals belong outside.”

It was during baseball season and I shared that story with my friends at Retrieving Freedom – laughing because Sox is not a ‘trained’ dog – but somehow knows.  My good friend, Tara, said to me…”She naturally knows Tucker.  She will comfort him when he’s anxious or worried.  Dogs can sense this – especially with children on the spectrum.”

She wasn’t helping…

At eight weeks I made the concession that the dog could sleep inside, but had to spend the day outside.  That was as far as I was going.


While I haven’t covered this yet, many children on the spectrum have troubles with sleep. Sleep is incredibly important because the lack of sleep STRONGLY impacts daytime behaviors – making those challenges that much worse.

When he’s lacking sleep it’s much more difficult for his body to actually go to sleep.  Some theorists believe this has to do with abnormal melatonin (the hormone that regular the wake/sleep cycle) levels.  Others argue is has to do with bedtime routines, schedules, and/or social cues.

It may be one of those things – but I would argue it’s a combination of all at any given time.

It was eight weeks and Tucker was having a particularly rough day, his schedule was screwy and he was tired – really, really tired.  I finally told him to just lay on my bed.  He didn’t have to go to sleep, but I needed him to rest his muscles. He reluctantly agreed.

The puppy was inside because it was 100+ degrees outside (I’m not THAT cold-hearted).

I walked down the hallway and noticed my door open.  I took a deep breath in frustration – that little poop snuck out…I just knew it.

I looked in my room to see if he had actually fallen asleep.

This is what I found.



…animals belong outside…

I must go vacuum….again.

5 thoughts on “Day #122 – Animals Belong OUTSIDE, Right?!?!?!

  1. Pingback: Day #229 – MacAttack, Day 1 | 366 Days of Autism

  2. Pingback: Day #280 – Puppy Love | 366 Days of Autism

  3. Pingback: Day #293 – Bribery | 366 Days of Autism

  4. Pingback: Day #321 – Sox Has Autism | 366 Days of Autism

  5. Pingback: Day #327 – Indexing | 366 Days of Autism

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