Goldie is a Bansenjs mixed rescue dog who resides in Oklahoma. She is also companion to Joy Lauffenburger a high school senior with autism. The two have been together since Joy was 9. Goldie is an Autism Light because her companionship has aided Joy in being successful in life by improving her communication and engagement with others. This is the first time that Autism Light has designated an animal for it’s award and it is felt that Goldie is deserving of the honor.
Joy and Goldie met 9 years ago when Joy was trapped in severe side-effects of her autism and Goldie was down to her last days at the Bansenjs Rescue and Transport. Goldie was soon going to have to be put to sleep unless a home for her was found. Goldie found a home with the Lauffenburger’s and she is now a certified therapy and service dog. What has transpired over the years between Joy and Goldie was autism light to Joy.
Joy has benefited from her relationship with Goldie in many ways. Her communication, emotions, and self-confidence have bloomed since she found Goldie. Joy takes Goldie to presentations she makes at Bansenjs Rescue and Transport (BRAT) seminars, something that once seemed unimaginable. Although dogs from the generally aloof Bansenjs breed are not normally pegged for the task of helping someone with autism to open up, this relationship has been a success story.
Liz Newton, President of the Bansenjs Rescue and Transport and a worker at a school for severely handicapped children said, “Joy was reluctant to speak. Goldie would accept whatever she said. That became very comforting for her.” For more information on the impact that Goldie has had on Joy see the article by William Hageman that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on June 11, 2011.
Here is a video designed to showcase the work of Goldie’s former home, the Bansenjs Rescue and Transport (BRAT).
In 2009 Goldie was inducted into the Oklahoma Veterinary Animal Hall of Fame under the category for Companion. Goldie’s nominating veterinarian Dr. Paul Davis wrote:
Joy says, “Goldie has healed me.” Goldie’s unconditional relationship with Joy helped to open up feelings of empathy and love. Joy says, Goldie helps me talk to strangers about my autism, she helps when I am in a bad place, and when I am scared or nervous.
Goldie and Joy’s story is also featured on the following other websites or blogs.
Special thanks to Goldie Lauffenburger for being an Autism Light. Joy give Goldie a hug for us.
Autism Light is a daily look at diverse heroes to the world of autism.