A couple of weeks after we got Orbit, my parents drove out from Texas to California for a visit. My Mom just couldn’t wrap her head around how a one-year-old dog could be all the fun of a regular family dog and all the obedience of an autism service dog, especially at such a young age. She wanted to see for herself.
Our goal for the weekend, besides just hanging out together, was to demonstrate for Nanny and GrandDad what Orbit does for Elliot. Two highlights of the trip were a beautiful walk on the beach trail in San Clemente and a trip to Islands Restaurant for lunch. After our trip to Islands, Nanny and GrandDad said they were surprised at a few things:
How well-behaved Orbit was in a restaurant full of people and food.
What an ambassador Orbit is for Elliot, how people smile and accept and seem to celebrate the relationship.
And lastly, the one that brought my Mom to tears, was how proud Elliot was walking his dog through the restaurant.
Number 3 made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. For years I thought of Elliot’s autism as a bad thing. But by learning to truly love Elliot--all of him, including his autism--we created this opportunity for him. An opportunity for a boy with autism to proudly strut through a restaurant full of people, announcing his autism (on Orbit’s vest) and feeling proud of himself. After all, if I want the world to love and accept him doesn’t it have to start with family?