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A best friend for autistic Colonie toddler

In an effort to continue the word-of-mouth advertising that 4 Paws for Ability works off of, every family wishing to have a service dog from the group, after being approved, is asked to hold benefits to raise $13,000 -- the cost of owning the service dog. According to Lori, even if a family had the money to send to 4 Paws, the organization asks that the family hold fundraisers so that awareness can be spread about the organization and the diseases that afflict the people who receive assistance from the dogs.

Never having held a fundraiser before, Lori said it can be a little overwhelming, but she does plan to continue raising money for the organization even after the family raises the $13,000 for Brady's dog and even on an annual basis.

Once Brady gets his dog, which will be either a Labrador retriever, a golden retriever or a German shepherd, he will be not only trained with specialists, but trained by Brady's family based on their specific needs for their son.

"For instance, Brady's dog is going to be trained to track," said Lori. "Because of Brady's age, he's so young that if he gets out " Brady is totally non-verbal, he doesn't respond when you call his name " so if he were to get away from us it is not a good situation."

Brady's dog will also learn what behaviors Lori and Thomas do not find acceptable, and when Brady misbehaves, the dog will be trained to lick or nudge the boy. When out in the community, the dog will be tethered to Brady, Lori said, preventing him from walking into cars in the middle of the street.

"The dog will keep him safe," Lori said.

While the Hirsch's hope having the dog will help Brady gain more independence as he grows up, more than anything, Lori said, they are happy for the added safety his new companion will bring.

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