An Autistic Boy and His Dog

03 Mar
Chance 8weeks

Baby Chance, 8 weeks old.

Oh my!  Our big lug, Chance the Landseer Newf, is 7 years old today!  His full name is Tallpines Come By Chance, but his daddy, Boo, comes from Bydand Newfs.  I remember when he was nothing but a big ball of fluff that we found on our doorstep one day, with his breeder.  Even at 8 weeks old, he was already 18lbs.  Although the big ball of fluff stage didn’t last very long, he very quickly became an integral part of our family.

Chance with his piggy, we have to buy him a new one every year.

We got Chance when Ben was only 8 years old.  That was a very tough age for us all, as Ben was still in the thick of his therapy and working on many issues, mainly his hyperactivity and aggression.  We had researched getting him a guide dog that was specially trained to work with autistic children, but there were several issues with that.  First, it would take about two years.  Second, the dog would only be allowed to bond with Ben, the rest of the family would have to keep their distance.  I didn’t see that as a possibility for us, having two other children, maybe that would work for an only child but it just wouldn’t happen in our family of animal lovers.  During my research though, I came across the Newfoundland breed, and the more I read, the more I was convinced that it was exactly what we wanted, and what Ben needed.

Newfs are well known for their protective instinct towards children.  They were initially bred as water rescue dogs for the boats coming off the ocean in Newfoundland, and those instincts run deep.  Even while he was still a puppy, Chance’s instincts towards Ben were obvious.  We always knew where we could find him, usually at Ben’s feet, or somewhere close by.  To this day Chance will not go for a walk without Benjamin, he will literally park his butt on the sidewalk and will not move.  If you’ve ever tried to move a 150lb dog that doesn’t want to go, you know that you just turn around and go home.  He is not happy in the house unless he knows where Ben is, and when we are out on a walk he is directly beside Ben at all times.  On nights like Halloween, he will sit with me at the end of the walkway but his eyes are glued to Ben the entire time he walks to the door and back, when he does get back he gets a sniff to be sure he’s ok then we’re off again.  Even at the dog park, off leash, he still stays by Ben’s side.  He takes his job very seriously.

The ritual when Ben gets home from school.

What floored me even more though was how Ben responded to Chance.  Being different isn’t easy, and Ben has never had a whole bunch of friends.  What he did have though was a dog who loved him unconditionally, despite his differences, or maybe even more so because of them.  He always knew that when he had a bad day his best friend would be waiting for him by the door with a big sloppy kiss.  Ben is so very proud of his dog, he will tell anyone who will listen all about him, and how much Chance ‘likes’ him.  When I really think about their lives together it makes me teary eyed.  He’s a very special dog, for a very special boy.

If there's water, Chance will find it!

The idea that he is turning 7 scares me senseless.  Unforunately, the bigger the dog, the shorter their expected life spans.  As a giant breed, he has an ‘expected’ 8 year life span.  I have to just keep reminding myself that Chance will no doubt live long beyond that as he is as spry now, as he was when he was a puppy.  He has no hip problems, a healthy heart, and is in great shape for any dog much less an almost senior citizen.  Chance’s Daddy is now past his tenth birthday, he comes from great, healthy lines, so thankfully I think we have lots of time with our boy.  As much as he loves Ben he’s also a big Momma’s boy, and I don’t know what I’d do without him!

So here’s great big birthday wishes for the most special dog on the planet!  As an ode to Chance I’m sharing some of my favorite shots of him over the years.  Click any of the pictures to see a larger version.

The pics won’t line up right with the captions so from left to right:

-Zack & Chance after a dip in the lake, time for a new piggy!
-Chance goes pretty much wherever we do, this is Chelsea and Chance during a hike.
-The colder it is, the more Chance loves it.  He gets super excited when he see’s it’s snowing.
-I know he needs a good brush out, but this one shows his personality so well that it’s always been one of my fav’s.

Chance tired after a long walk 🙂


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35 responses to “An Autistic Boy and His Dog

  1. Helen

    March 3, 2012 at 9:51 am

    You had me in tears, reading your story. So very touching

  2. mamawee (ashley picco)

    March 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

    He is absolutely beautiful–happy birthday to Chance!


  3. Little Miss Kate

    March 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I have heard so many positive things about child with autism bonding with dogs. Wishing Chance many more Happy Birthdays with your family!

  4. Michelle

    March 3, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Happy Birthday Chance. A special boy doesn’t even describe you. But Pat and I knew there was one wonderful pup in the litter when you called me years ago. I am glad it was Chance. He has a wonderful life with all of you. Thank you so much for this wonderful tribute on his birthday.

    Bydand Newfs

    • Adventures in Miscellany

      March 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      It seems like weeks ago instead of years doesn’t it? I will be sure to give him a big hug for you!

  5. Alex Conde

    March 3, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    That was a beautiful story. I’m an animal lover myself and I love how much they can contribute to our lives.

    Happy Birthday to Chance!

    -Visiting from SASS

  6. Nicole | Domesticated Momma

    March 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Beautifully written post! Happy birthday, Chance!

    (visiting from SASS)

  7. sweepstakesmama

    March 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    aww such a cute dog! Our dog is 10 and still has plenty of spunk! Happy birthday chance

    • Adventures in Miscellany

      March 5, 2012 at 7:07 am

      The more I hear, the more I realize that the whole 8yrs thing might be totally outdated. Here’s to hoping 🙂

  8. Becca

    March 4, 2012 at 9:19 am

    That was a sweet picture of them together. My oldest has autism as well and seems to have a special connection with our dog (and animals in general, but especially the dog). Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Adventures in Miscellany

      March 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

      Oh I didn’t know that Becca. Although I shouldn’t be surprised, autism is now 1 in 110 children as opposed to ten years ago when it was 1 in 10,000. 12 years ago when Ben was Diagnosed it was 1 in 170. It’s reaching epidemic proportions.

  9. croulier

    March 4, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Don’t get nervous yet about Chance’s age, we have a Landseer Newf, a big boy 180 lbs, has always been healthy up until this last 6 months, who is awaiting his 12 birthday in June.

    • Adventures in Miscellany

      March 4, 2012 at 11:34 am

      That is awesome Croulier! Is your pup from Michelle as well? I am trying very hard not to focus on it, but with an autistic child, it’s imperative that you prepare them for something this big waaaay ahead of time. When we moved to Calgary for example, we started preparing Ben more than a year ahead of time. As I said in the post though, he is as healthy now as he was when he was a pup, and I am so greatful to Michelle & Pat for producing such sound dogs! I have no doubt that we have at least a few more years with him 🙂

  10. Camille

    March 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Awww, so sweet. I’ve never seen a Landseer, just regular Newfies. He is absolutely beautiful!!

  11. Camille

    March 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

    And you never know, my husband’s Great Dane is 13 and still kicking!!

    • Adventures in Miscellany

      March 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

      Wow, and they are even more giant than Newfs! I wonder if anyone has done any more recent studies on life expectancy in dogs. It would make sense that as with humans dogs would be living longer as well.

  12. tiffany elkins

    March 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Newfs are such great dogs, I miss ours very much. I think it’s a great match 🙂

    • Adventures in Miscellany

      March 5, 2012 at 7:08 am

      Thank you Tiffany! How long did your Newf live? I would love to have another pup from Chance’s dad as he, believe it or not, is still breeding, but the economy sucks big bananas right now. Hopefully we can make it happen though.

  13. mamawolfe

    March 5, 2012 at 6:48 am

    A beautiful story…the love between a boy and his dog is a beautiful thing. I hope Chance lives a long and healthy life!

    • Adventures in Miscellany

      March 5, 2012 at 7:09 am

      Thank you MamaWolfe 🙂 They are something to see together!

      I did eventually find your FB page and liked!

  14. Jennifer Chipperfield

    March 5, 2012 at 8:56 am

    That is such a lovely tribute to their relationship. How wonderful that you were able to give him this ongoing gift of friendship and unconditional love.

  15. WIBunky

    March 5, 2012 at 10:39 am

    My husband just sent this to me. We have 2 of Michelle’s Newfs. Lewis and Token. Lewis is from Dax and Noah and is 3. I can’t remember Token’s bitch, but her sire is also Noah. We just adopted Token in September. She was one of Michelle’s breeding females that she put up for adoption. She is 5. Both still act very puppy like, especially when there is snow. We are absolutely in love with our dogs. My 2 legged children actually say their father pays more attention to the dogs than to them!

    Chance is beautiful.

    • Adventures in Miscellany

      March 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      What a wonderful breeder Michelle is 🙂 Thanks for sharing Bunky, one day we will get a second from her!!

  16. Shari Goss (@knitwitshair)

    March 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    What a beautiful dog!! Thanks for joining up with the Friendly Followers hop!

  17. Multi-Testing Mommy

    March 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Some REALLY awesome pictures there – thanks for sharing those!

    What a lovely story!

    Thanks for participating in SASS (host)

  18. Sonya Parga

    March 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Returning the Alexa Hop Love! Love this post! Animals seem to be alot of help with all kinds of disabilities and children! Don’t know what we would do without our dog!

  19. Krystle Smith

    March 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    What a heartwarming story. I have a huge dog-lover and what they can do to help humans with everything from autism to cancers never ceases to amaze me!

  20. mapleleafmommy

    March 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    What a beautiful dog, both in nature and form. How lucky that you found the perfect companion for Ben, and to be part of your family as well. Thanks for sharing your touching story. I hope Chance is here for many years to come. – SASS

  21. Jayda

    March 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Aww, such a sweet story. I am a huge dog lover and a big believer kids and pets are a perfect match. we have two and I love watching them play together and cuddle. Although I do worry about their short life spans in comparison to ours I wouldnt change a day with them in our life. Chance is a cutie!


  22. Zenaida Melendrez

    March 10, 2012 at 11:42 am

    ahhh so touching :]

  23. Krysten

    April 18, 2012 at 10:00 am

    No worries, a Newfoundland’s life expectancy is actually generally considered to be quite high for giant breeds. 9-12, in fact, and I know of several people with Newfs in the 10-13 year age bracket! Even a couple people with Newfs that have reached 14 (gasp!). God willing, you’ll have another 5 years or so with him 🙂


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