Benni hits the mark with the equine set

29 Jun 2017 | 03:17

By Frances Ruth Harris
— Benni, the service dog being trained by Chrisanne Cubby of Milford, continued his education on June 10, when he met many children on the autism spectrum at GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center.
Someday soon Benni will be ready help a child with autism, especially when it comes to "bolting." A 2012 study found that nearly half of children with autism spectrum disorders are reported to wander off or “bolt,” and more than half of these children go missing, according to the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Service dogs, like Benni will be, are trained to serve as an anchor so that the child doesn't get away.
GAIT's director, Martha Dubensky, welcomed Benni and Cubby to GAIT. The kids followed their curiosity, slowly sizing Benni up and reaching out to stroke him.
"Benni said, 'Don't be afraid,'" Alexa Wilson told her mom, Anita Wilson, as Cubby watched.
"It's moments like this that I see so clearly the value in what I am doing and, quite frankly, I become very moved by these special moments," Cubby said.
All the children at GAIT took the opportunity to meet and pet Benni, now tipping the scales at 44.9 pounds. He continues to be the star of his puppy class. At six months old, he knows all 20 commands he needs to know.
Benni knows he's at the head of his class as his new friends ask why he's even still in training, since he's mastered his lessons so well.