Tommy’s Autism Dog

Tommy Adel on Ferry Disney

Tommy fondly calls his Autism Assistance Dog Guide his “shining, gleaming black Labrador Retriever”.  Her name is Adel (pronounced “Adele” like the singer).  Adel was placed with Tommy by the Lions Foundation Dog Guides in Oakville, Ontario. She came to Tommy in January, 2011. Tommy has always said that she is actually a Dalmatian covered in soot, hiding from Cruella DeVil! From her first day in our home, Adel’s gentle, loving, sweet and devoted presence in Tommy’s life has been magical  Here are a couple of videos of her first day with Tommy! When Tommy heard her birthday was May 29, 2009, he immediately said she was born on the release date of “Up” in theatres  Amazing! We love you, Adel.

Tommy and Adel 2011

Since 2000, Tommy has had three Autism Service Dogs. Sara, a big yellow lab trained by National Service Dogs, worked with him from 2000 to 2003. She went blind at age 4 due to Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Matrix, a little yellow lab, also trained by National Service Dogs, worked with Tommy from 2004 to 2011.  Matrix was retired due to old age in January, 2011, when Adel, trained by the Lions Foundation, was placed with Tommy.  Here is a slide show about his three dogs.

Tommy and Adel 2011 chair

Tommy was invited to the Kanata Lions Club where he read a speech written with the help of his mom about his Autism Assistance Dog Guides. To hear Tommy give a speech about his dogs, watch this youtube video:

Here is the written text of his speech:
“Hi, my name is Tommy! I am 20 years old. I would like to talk to you today about my Autism Assistance Dog Guide. Her name is Adel. She is a shining, gleaming, black labrador retriever, and she is three years old. She is my 3rd Autism Service Dog.

Here is the story of my Autism Service Dogs, Sara, Matrix and Adel, and how they have helped me.

Sara, a yellow lab, was my first dog. We got her when she was a puppy at a farm in Ottawa in March 1999, when I was 7 years old. In April 2000, Sara went to school for 6 months at National Service Dogs in Cambridge, Ontario, to learn to be my Autism Service Dog. I missed her so much, my parents got another yellow lab, named Tia, to live with me until Sara got home. Tia was a good friend to me too. When Sara came home in October 2000, Tia went to live with my grandparents.

I was so happy to see Sara again when she got home from dog school! Sara wore her Service Dog vest and she and I went everywhere together. We went to museums, the Experimental Farm, stores, and on camping trips to the Rocky Mountains and the ocean. She was a great Autism Service Dog.

Sara retired very early, in October 2003, when she was only 4 years old, because she went blind. Sara is 13 years old now, and she lives with my grandparents.

Matrix, another yellow lab, was my second Autism Service Dog, from October 2004 to January 2011. Just like Sara, she was trained by National Service Dogs.

Matrix was turning 9 years old, and was ready to retire when Adel came to me on January 26, 2011. That day, Matrix went to live with my grandparents and Sara. So now Sara and Matrix both live with them! I can visit them any time. Grandma and Grampa give dogs a very good home! Tia lived with them until she was 8 years old, and then she died from cancer. My grandparents missed her very much, so they are very happy that Sara and Matrix live with them now.

The night Adel arrived at the Ottawa airport with my mom, on January 26, 2011, I was very excited to meet her! I was so happy to have a new, shining, gleaming, black Labrador retriever!

Adel started going everywhere with me right away. She goes with me to the track when I run with the Ottawa Lions running club. She goes with me shopping to Costco, Natural Food Pantry, Superstore, and many other stores. She goes to the movies with me. She goes to watch me rock climbing, she comes to the Rideau Canoe Club and waits while I paddle in my kayak.

Adel goes with me to Disney World! She likes to watch the parades, go on rides, and meet all the Disney characters with me. On the airplane she lies at my feet and she is a very good quiet dog. She sleeps with me in the hotel when we travel.

Adel came with me to Halifax in August 2012 when I went to race at the Canadian National Kayak Championships. We went to an ocean beach and she ran and swam in the ocean.

Adel likes to go in the canoe with me at the cottage. She likes to go swimming in the Gatineau river on hot days. She likes it when I throw a ball for her to run and play fetch with me!

Adel sleeps in my bedroom, and likes to lie beside the computer when I am on Facebook or Skype.

I take good care of Adel. When we are walking near traffic or in parking lots I watch carefully for cars to make sure that Adel stays safe.

I feed Adel in the morning and dinner time every day. I help clean her ears, bath her, brush her, and trim her nails.

I take her to the vet for her check-up and shots, and when she has a problem, like a sore tummy. In November 2011 she had surgery on her stomach. It was blocked and the food could not go through into her intestines. I took very good care of her while she got better, and I gave her medicine every day.

Adel came with me to the hospital when I had pains in my tummy. Adel is very calm. She likes to take naps, and she waits very nicely with me whenever we are waiting for the doctor or the dentist.

People are always very happy to meet Adel. They ask me her name, how old she is, and lots of other questions. Adel and I meet lots and lots of people. Adel helps people see that I have autism. When people see her vest, and read the words Autism Assistance Dog Guide, they understand that I have autism. People are very friendly and nice when they see Adel with me.

I am very thankful that the Lions Foundation in Oakville gave Adel to me. She is my best friend. She is the best Autism Assistance Dog Guide in the world!”

To learn more about Autism Assistance Dog Guides, visit

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