Max Zachow

Help Max to navigate the world with more dignity and comfort with a fully trained Autism Support Dog!

We are so excited to share that our daughter Max, 10, has been accepted to receive an Autism Assistance Dog from 4 Paws for Ability. 4 Paws for Ability is a non-profit organization that enriches the lives of people with disabilities by placing life-changing service dogs worldwide.

About Max

Max is a vibrant, loving, and curious Autistic tween, with a very special connection to animals. Max has such reverence for all forms of life from a single-cell bacteria to a 150-ton whale. In the warmer months, Max can often be found with her face to the cool earth observing the habits of ants and other insects or in these colder months sprawled out on the living room floor mapping out various Animal Taxonomy. Max’s love and advocacy for animals runs so deep, that she is famous at her summer camp for advocating that a wasp that stung her not be killed and that its nest be relocated, not destroyed. She so deeply loves her pets and wants to make sure they don’t feel replaced or have their feelings hurt when her service dog comes home. 

The Service Dog Process

The road to bringing a service dog home is a long one, with the current wait at approximately 2-2.5 years. The rising demand for service dogs to improve the lives of Autistic children and teens is part of the reason the wait is so long. One of the other reasons is that only 40% of dogs that start out in their service dog training move on to graduate into Service Dogs, that’s 4 out of 10 dogs. The process also involves a thorough application, proof of medical necessity, an interview, and letters of recommendation. Once the child is accepted, the fundraising can begin. Once the family’s financial obligation is met, the child is placed in the next available class. We would love to get into a 2024 class. 

This is the part of the process where we need YOUR help! 

A portion of the cost for the dog, as well as training of the handlers (Naomi, Dawn, and Max), are the responsibility of the family. Before we can be assigned a class, and ultimately matched up with Max’s new best friend, we must raise $17,000. This fee charged by 4 Paws for Ability covers a small portion of the actual cost, estimated at between $40,000-$60,000, to purchase, raise and train the Service Dog for Max.

Please consider a donation (it will go directly to 4 Paws) to help us finish up our fundraising and get Max placed in a class! 

Why a service dog for Max? 

You might be wondering how a Service Dog could help a kid like Max. An Autism Support Service Dog will be a game-changer in helping Max navigate the trials of adolescence and young adulthood with the dignity and independence she deserves. Like everyone, Max desires connection and a sense of belonging in the world. Max has always struggled to navigate and find her place with her peers. Now, more than ever, she has expressed a desire to belong. 

Max’s Service Dog from 4 Paws will help bridge these social gaps, give Max more confidence, responsibility and will be trained to respond to her individual needs. 

An Autism Service Dog would greatly benefit Max in many ways. These trained service dogs can help on command with anxiety, sensory overwhelm, sleep difficulties, and even meltdowns by serving as a calming and grounding point of contact–much like an anchor keeps a boat steady in rough seas. These dogs can also provide tactile deep pressure to calm the nervous system and to support independent sleeping, sensory input from (gentle) fiddling with ears, fur, paws, etc. A Service Dog can also redirect attention, disrupt unsafe behaviors, soothe anxiety, and bridge social interactions and connections with peers. By law, an Autism Service Dog can accompany their human to school, stores, restaurants, on airplanes, and go anywhere the public is allowed. This is vital to Max’s quality of life as she will need to navigate more of the world as she gets older. 

As Max grows and needs more independence in her self-regulation and socialization, her Autism Support Service Dog will be a constant source of support, love, and companionship. 

Please consider donating to help make this dream come true for Max. Additionally, we would be grateful if you would share this request with friends and family or others in your communities that you think would donate to our cause. We welcome any suggestions for businesses that might be willing to donate. You can pay directly through the link on this page. 

Max has so much to offer the world with her brilliance, curiosity, and love for animals. Please help us get her the resources she needs and deserves to be her best self.

Contribute to Max’s dog below