Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers Makes Early Thanksgiving Delivery

Sparta Tennessee Child receives Service Dog


An early Thanksgiving delivery will be made to Ben Brandes of Sparta, Tennessee, as he receives his Autism Response Dog from Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers.  On Sunday, November 20 Ben will be meeting his new service dog, a Golden Retriever named “Leo.”  Based in Virginia, Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers has a mission to provide specially-bred and trained dogs for adults and children with invisible disabilities like Diabetes, PTSD, Seizure Disorders, or in the case of Ben—Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, “SDWR” has over 500 service dogs working across the US and around the globe.  SDWR is currently serving almost 1,000 families.

Leo has already received thousands of hours of training as Autism service dog through SDWR’s puppy raiser training program where volunteers raise puppies in training for about a period of one year and then through the foundation and skill set training provided through SDWR trainers at the facility in Virginia.  Leo will continue to learn under the careful guidance of a certified trainer from SDWR and through the rapport he develops with Ben and his parents, Tyler and Ashley Brandes, at their home in Sparta.

"We would like to see this service dog help Ben with his self esteem, help him to sleep better, calm him and certainly keep him from self harm," Ashley Brandes.

Ben who is 12 years old faces the daily challenges associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  “Ben experiences emotional outbursts and will go from rage to completely shutting down,” states his mom Ashley, “he also has sleep pattern disturbances.”   

These are but a few of the common challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder. New scientific research studies into Autism therapy provide positive evidence of the difference a service dog can make.    Dan Warren states, “The studies showed children experienced fewer sensory overloads, ‘meltdowns,’ smiled more frequently, experienced better sleep patterns, and had less frustration when around their service dog.”  Autism service dogs are also trained to redirect away from repetitive and sometimes harmful behaviors.   Self harm is also a concern of Ben’s parents.  “We would like to see this service dog help Ben with his self esteem, help him to sleep better, calm him and certainly keep him from self harm,” says his mom Ashley.

One of the main goals when training an Autism service dog is the need to keep a child safe and calm. According to Mr. Warren, “the studies further found that safety aspect was a huge relief for families as parents’ anxiety over their child can lead to social isolation.”  

Now with the arrival of Leo, Ben and his parents will have yet another tool, a four-legged one that has received training to assist him to live a happier and more enriching life.   Since Leo is a service dog and covered under laws in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he will be able to accompany Ben everywhere—from his family-favorite camping trips to restaurants, shopping and even trips to the doctor.  Leo will keep Ben safe as well as help him cope with the sensory overload challenges that come with an Autism diagnosis. 

Leo will continue to work with the SDWR trainers in the Brandes’ home to learn new skills to assist Ben as well as to achieve public access certification.  Certification must be achieved by Leo and his handler—in this case, Ben and his parents.  Dan Warren is quick to point out that, “all the incredible services these dogs can provide are through progression, hard work and dedication of the organization and the family who must work together to build on training foundations and fundamentals.  This is about an 18-month program for follow up and customization training.”

What sets SDWR apart from other non-profit service dog organizations are the customized training methods and SDWR matches dogs to their “person.”  According to Dan Warren, “that important bonding time between dog and person can begin to happen right away.  For nearly a decade we’ve been utilizing this method of dog placement and we’ve achieved amazing results.” 

Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers is a non-profit organization based in Madison, Virginia, and relies on donations to help the Organization in its mission, “Until there’s a cure…there’s a dog.”  To make or donation or learn more about SDWR, please visit the website, To learn more about Autism Service Dogs visit  To find out how you can volunteer as a puppy raiser visit .

Source: Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers