BLAINE, Minn. – For years, Sophia Reither didn’t speak to her teachers and classmates at school. Her teachers say her new four-legged companion has changed that completely.

“She’s a different kid,” mom Michele Reither told KARE.

Sofia has autism, which for years made it difficult for her to communicate with others. She had violent tendencies, and would throw tantrums when she was frustrated.

“She is not understood by most people. She is also a selective mute, which means she doesn’t communicate the same way as other kids.”

The family adopted an assistance dog from Can Do Canines. The dog named Rylee is a laid-back black lab, and she ended up being a perfect match for little Sophia.

“The dog doesn’t judge her,” Reither said. “She can melt down, cry, and she’ll call the dog over and the dog will lick her face. And say ‘it’s ok…. We’re going to get through this’.”

Since Rylee came into her life, Sophia has been volunteering in class and engaging with her teachers and classmates. Now, her future is looking brighter than ever.

“It’s given her freedom, and it’s also given us an idea she’ll be able to work, hold a job, connect and communicate with people,” said Reither. “We didn’t know if she’d have any of that in her.”

Girl gets new dog, speaks for the first time in years

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