The History of Autism Dogs Charity
Starting small with a big dream, Autism Dogs Charity has transformed into the dedicated organisation it is today.
The Autism Dogs Charity story started in 2016 with the Preston family – who are still involved with the charity today. Starting with a small team and working out of the Preston’s family farm in Cheshire, the organisation has helped to transform the lives of autistic people and their families ever since.
Therapy Dogs for autistic people
In 2016, we started off as Therapy Dogs, training Therapy Dogs for autistic people. Our first dogs were a litter of springadors that one of our Founders, Andrew Preston, bred himself.
We delivered our first dog
At the beginning of the year, we delivered our first dog. Ryder (named after the Ryder cup – our Founder Andrew is a big golf fan) was delivered to his handler, Ruth.
Ruth has been involved with the organisation
Ruth has been involved with the organisation ever since Ryder’s delivery. Starting as an Ambassador, Ruth’s involvement has now grown into being the organisation’s Marketing Coordinator.
Training our dogs to be assistance dogs
We realised the value that our dogs could add to the lives of autistic people through being Assistance Dogs. So, with some added expertise, we made the shift from training our dogs to being Assistance Dogs.
Highly specialised and prestigious qualification
One of our Founders, Andrew Preston, became a Kennel Club Assured Instructor of Assistance Dogs. Andrew became only the second trainer in the UK to be awarded this highly specialised and prestigious qualification.
The organization is now known as Autism Dogs CIC
In this year, we changed our name to Autism Dogs CIC (nearly the same as our current name, except now we’re a charity).
This year we worked very hard to improve our programme, grow our team, and help more autistic people and their families.
Accreditation by the National Autistic Society
This year we were awarded Autism Accreditation by the National Autistic Society. To achieve the accreditation, we had to meet a standard of excellence and follow a framework of continuous self-examination and development.
Commendation from the National Autistic Society
We also gained a commendation from the NAS for two separate categories – ‘Partnership with Families’ and ‘Furthering Knowledge of Autism’!
KCAI Dog Training Instructor of the Year Award
Andrew Preston was awarded the KCAI Dog Training Instructor of the Year Award for 2019. The accolade recognised the amazing work Andrew does to improve the lives and happiness of both dogs and humans, including working as a Kennel Club Assured Instructor of Assistance Dogs.
Introducing our new logo
This was also the year we rebranded with our current logo. The logo symbolises how our handlers are supported by their dogs – superheroes who assist and love them.
Accredited by Assistance Dogs International
We became accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI). ADI establishes and promotes standards of excellence in all areas of assistance dog acquisition, training, and partnership, and is the leading global authority in the Assistance Dog Industry.
Full member of Assistance Dogs UK
As well as becoming a full member of ADI, we also became a full member of Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK). ADUK is a voluntary coalition of Assistance Dog organisations, aiming to share knowledge, expertise, and skills between its members and candidates, while also promoting the highest standards in assistance dog training and welfare.
We took the step to become a charity
To facilitate growth in expertise in the organisation and the amount of autistic people and families that we can help each year, this year we took the step to become a charity. We continue to strive to provide the best care and expertise to our clients and dogs, to enable us to change as many lives as possible.
We’re excited to see where the future takes us!