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A Hero with a Winning Smile

Puzzle (aka the Wuz, Puz Wuz or the Wuzzle) first came into the lives of Kari and her family in April 2013, after Kari changed careers from exotic animal trainer to dog trainer and behavior therapist for children with developmental disabilities.

“After my youngest son, Nick, received his autism diagnosis, I decided to leave my career to spend more time with him as well as my oldest son (also on the autism spectrum),” Kari says. “Nick’s disorders lead him to be a risk taker, which can place him in harm’s way. I thought about how nice it would be to have some assistance in dealing with some of Nick’s challenges. Thus, the idea of training an assistance dog was born!”

Puzzle was chosen on the basis of his temperament and behavior. Since then he has gone through extensive obedience training and also completed specific training to address Kari’s and Nick’s needs, such as learning deep pressure therapy to help Nick alleviate anxiety, alerting Kari when Nick tries to leave the house by himself, and learning how to track Nick should the boy ever get lost. 

Kari first heard about Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study through a friend. Although she hasn’t lost a dog to cancer, she says a number of her friends and family members have gone through this devastating process. Kari hopes that by enrolling Puzzle, she can contribute to a growing body of knowledge about this terrible disease and can support the Golden Retrievers she has come to know and love.

“Puzzle is the most enthusiastic and fun dog I have ever had the pleasure of training. He has a zest for life and is 100 percent dedicated to his boys,” she says. “He loves a good snuggle and seems to be really in tune to everyone’s feelings, ready to offer a hug if needed. And the smile, man-o-man he has the best!”

Categories: Animal studies
October 10, 2014