Before Sarah came along, Devin Palacios often struggled to establish friendships.

Affected by autism, Devin tends to be shy and anxious in many social situations. That can make having discussions with classmates and playground buddies feel particularly awkward.

But Sarah, Devin’s trained therapy dog, is a great conversation starter. A Golden Retriever-Labrador mix, Sarah gives Devin a favorite subject to talk about—one in which he can speak with confidence. What’s more, peers who might be uncomfortable talking to someone with autism find themselves drawn to Sarah and, in turn, Devin. That has increased Devin’s feeling of being accepted and valued as a person.

The Ability Center obtained Sarah from Paws with Purpose in Louisville, Kentucky. Our volunteers and staff guided Devin and his family throughout the training and placement experience.

Typical of most young boys, Devins enjoys swimming, monster trucks, video games, and running in the park. With Sarah, he now has a loyal, non-judgmental friend, and kids who once viewed him as a person with a disability now see him as someone with a cool therapy dog.

Devin & Sarah

Therapy dogs offer support and companionship to children and adults with disabilities.