Family pet in training for special mission

Matthew McCully
Staff Writer

It can take months, even years, to train a service dog-and sometimes it just happens naturally.
This is a story about autism, serendipity and a dog named Debbie.
Debbie is a Labrador cross, around five-and-a-half years old, and a Lennoxville resident in the home of Mandy Doucet with her husband Lambert Chavannes and their four daughters.
If all goes according to plan, Debbie will be reunited with her family sometime in April after undergoing specialized training to become a service dog for Doucet and Chavannes’ four-year-old daughter Selena, who has autism.
“We sort of rescued her and now she’s rescuing us back,” Doucet said.
Debbie joined the family April 5, four years ago, on Selena’s first birthday when a friend of a friend who was moving into an apartment couldn’t take her.
Debbie was a good fit from the beginning, well-behaved, and bonded well with Selena, who shortly after was beginning to show developmental and behavioral changes.
See full story in March 27 Record