Zach Tucker, Colorado Springs – The arrival of Clyde, a chocolate Labrador has improved the quality of life for Zach, 11 who has Asperger’s Syndrome.
Claude was trained to be a service dog in prison by inmate Christopher Vogt.
Kirk Mitchell reports in The Denver Post that Zach’s parents had heard of the work that Vogt did and although sceptical decided to visit him in the high-security Sterling prison to see if he could help their son come out of his shell.
Vogt has trained many dogs for disabled children through the Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program.
Voigt was able to speak to Zach directly during visits although authorities were hesitant about a young child being in such close contact with a killer.
Vogt is serving a 48-year prison term for second-degree murder, he is eligible for parole in 2018.
Arthur, Zach’s dad who is a special-education teacher tells of how Vogt asked very personal questions about Zach’s behaviour.
The article tells of how Zach over the years had slowly retreated into his own world and would resist touch. Within three weeks of Claude being in the family home Zach wrapped his arms around his mother.
Zach was the only person allowed to pet, feed, water and play fetch with Clyde in accordance with Vogt’s training.
The article states:
“Taking care of Clyde was really freaking hard,” Zach said. “It’s paying off. He keeps my anxiety down. The focus factor helped.”
Zach has now had Clyde for 2½ years and he has been his constant companion. Zach acknowledges how Clyde has improved his life.
Since Zach took Clyde home, Vogt and other inmates have trained another 20 dogs to help autistic children.
The original article by Kirk Mitchell in The Denver Post can be found here