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Young boy with autism receives a service dog

Carter Moore of Northumberland deals with autism every day but now he will have a furry friend by his side to help get through the day.

Carter Moore not only has autism, but he is completely non-verbal. 

He spends most of his time at home, either playing with his iPad or hanging out with his family.

But just recently, that family got a bit bigger and furrier.

"I decided that it would be really awesome for Carter to have a service dog," said Carter's mom, Heidi Moore.

Since 2017, the Moore family has been trying to raise $25,000 to purchase a service dog for Carter. 

Finally, after three years of raising money, Carter has his very own four-legged friend named Kelly.

"It was pretty neat to see him come home from school, and you know there wasn't this crazy moment where he runs up and hugs her, but he acknowledged her and knew she was here, so it was a really good feeling when it all came together."

Kelly comes from a program known as Service Dogs for Warren Retrievers in Virginia. 

Her trainer Ivan Petersel has been working with Kelly to make sure she is ready to be Carter's service dog.

"She will be able to attend to Carter in any way that the parents see fit. You know as I was saying it could be if he has elopement issues she could alert when he goes near a door, it could be a deep pressure therapy where she lays on his legs or chest," said service dog trainer, Ivan Petersel.

The family hopes Kelly will be able to attend school with Carter to help strengthen the bond between the two.

"I'm hoping that she gives him confidence as well and responsibility and a friend, because right now you see that want to be included, and he doesn't know how to do it, so I think having the dog will be good." 

"There is like an expectation about what can the dog do for him, but sometimes I see the kid break out of his shell, and now it's like well what can I do for the dog."

For the next 18 months, the organization will be keeping a close eye on Kelly's progress. The family's ultimate goal for Kelly is to provide structure and companionship for Carter. 

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