January 17, 2012
At the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, we believe in keeping families together. And sometimes family extends beyond our moms, dads, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and includes even our pets!
Rhythm is an eight month old German Shepherd service dog in-training staying at the Front and Erie Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House with the Otto Sunderman family, while his trainer, 17 year old Benjamin is receiving in-patient treatment at Shriners Hospital for curvature of the spine.
When Benjamin is not in the hospital, it is his responsibility to train Rhythm for Dogs for Autism in Greenville South Carolina. German Shepherds are chosen for their natural protective qualities and herding instincts, as the organization says: “Enriching lives, increasing independence for children with autism and their families”. Benjamin’s physical therapist recommended that this experience would help provide Benjamin with more responsibility than teenagers often have, as well as the ability to help others. This is an empowering experience for Benjamin, who spends most of his time in an electric wheelchair.
Rhythm has lived with the Otto Sunderman family for six months and will continue to live with them for another year through the duration of the training before being ready to assist a child with autism; so Rhythm will likely return to the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House the next time the Otto Sunderman family travels to Philadelphia for Benjamin’s treatment.
We are glad to have Rhythm staying here, bringing a smile to the faces of many children at the house!