Published: Jul 11, 2010 12:08 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 10, 2010 9:09 PM EDT

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Dogs have been called "man's best friend," but to one Golden Gate Estates family, their new Golden Retriever is much more than that.

Several months ago, Kathy Lowers noticed something wasn't right with her three-year-old son, Nate.

"He started lining up toys everywhere," says Lowers.  "It was really eerie and he could only point like this."

Nate became sedentary.  He stopped playing with his brothers and sisters and wouldn't make eye contact.

"He wouldn't look at his own mother, he wouldn't look me in the eye," says Lowers.

A doctor diagnosed Nate with severe autism and told his mom he needs intensive one-on-one therapy.  One way he can get that, is with a therapy dog.

"It improves IQ and development," says Lowers.

But, therapy dogs are expensive.  They cost more than $10 thousand.

"I thought this is impossible.  We'll never get a dog," says Lowers.

Then, she heard about the local program, Paws for Love.  It gives service dogs to special needs families for free.  Friday was Nate's turn.

"When you have a child with autism its like seeing your child get stuck in quicksand and you can't get them out yourself," says Lowers.

Lowers hopes their new dog, Falcon, can help.
"We're really excited about the dog because it adds a whole new dimension with Nate," says Lowers.

To donate to Paws for Love or for more information head to their website at  or call SWFL Professional Dog Trainers Alliance at (239) 775-1660 or Humane Society Naples at (239) 643-1880.