• Laura Sylvester

It's Homecoming for Good Dog! Drake

Drake is the first facility dog placement by Good Dog! Autism Companions. Our gratitude goes out to The Drake Center for Veterinary Care for all of their fundraising efforts that helped make it all possible. We are grateful to be a part of this very special team that is helping children with autism in our community.

As a trained facility dog, Drake will now live and work with her autism service provider/handler to help kids with autism meet their individual goals. Drake will work with children to increase their motivation, promote gross and fine motor activities, provide opportunities for language and offer calm and comfort.

Specific benefits and activities of a Good Dog! facility dog include:

  • Using the dog as part of a reward system

  • Reading aloud to the dog, which research has shown to help improve reading ability for many

  • Increasing confidence and self-esteem by practicing commands and teaching the dog new commands

  • Overcoming fears and developing more confidence around dogs

  • Learning to interact with a dog, which promotes theory of mind and helps to improve social skills

Most importantly, Drake’s unwavering love, compassion and patience will promote a positive impact on these children for life.


She will arrive with her Good Dog! Trainer, Samantha Mack, in San Diego on August 11th where she will dedicate her life to serving children with autism at the Comprehensive Autism Center (CAC). CAC has been working with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families throughout San Diego, Camp Pendleton and Riverside for the past six years. Based on the overwhelming positive feedback from families in Camp Pendleton and a passion for the military community as a whole, CAC opened a one-of-a-kind autism center in Oceanside, CA in January 2014. CAC incorporates teaching skills across all domains, including focusing on reducing maladaptive behaviors while teaching to increase language, play, socialization and adaptive living skills. Drake will reinforce these principles by participating in one-on-one sessions, community outings, circle time and a new social skills group. Drake will live and work with CAC’s regional director, Susie Jordan, who will be completing her Good Dog! handler lessons with one week of personal instruction from Samantha. Susie will be responsible for Drake’s ongoing care, facilitation of her daily duties and maintaining Drake’s mastered skill set. As mentioned before as an invaluable part of the team, The Drake Center has generously offered to sponsor her veterinary care for life.

A note from Susie: “We are so excited to welcome Drake to San Diego and the CAC family! I know she will help our children achieve meaningful, life-changing results and I cannot wait to witness the daily impact she will have on our families. At CAC, we strive to make our center a fun, safe environment where children can learn, play and socialize with peers and we are proud to have Drake join our family to provide an opportunity for unparalleled canine companionship. We are excited to see her inspire social development, confidence and foster an even more compelling feeling of joy in our center. We are confident that the extensive benefits and opportunities for Drake’s participation will support the development of everyone in the center. We are all eagerly awaiting her arrival and the impact she will have on so many lives. Lastly, CAC would like to send a big thank you to The Drake Center, Good Dog! Autism Companions and Sam. This team of wonderful people has worked long and hard to make a positive impact on the local autism community. They are providing a wonderful service for our facility and we are all very thankful to have them.”
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