Gus and Fonzy

Updated: Oct 1, 2021

"Everyone has the right to lead the best life they can and Assistance Dogs allows those with disabilities to reach their potential."

The Haymans heard about Assistance Dogs through friends and instantly knew that this was what their son Gus needed. After fundraising through charity auctions and quiz nights, Assistance Dog Fonzy joined their family just over two years ago.

It took some time on the waiting list, which currently exceeds five years, and they had to ensure their dog would have the right strength and temperament for Gus, but it was worth the wait. Gus has non-verbal autism, uncontrolled epilepsy and a profound intellectual disability. Fonzy is invaluable for him, providing anchoring and guidance.

"When Gus was younger, we could put him into a buggy and strap him in to stop him from running away, but then he obviously got too big for that. The only way we could take him out in the community was in a wheelchair, which he clearly didn’t need because he could walk, but it was a restraining mechanism to keep him in one place. So wherever we went, he would have to be in the

wheelchair - but he likes to be able to run and walk and he needed exercise. He would try and flip the chair back because he wanted freedom."

With Fonzy, the family can now go out and about in the community without the concern of Gus running away; now they can go to malls, supermarkets, restaurants and attend his sister’s football games. He has much more control and independence over his own body and the family can now go

to the beach without the worry of Gus running into the sea, or access issues with the old wheelchair he no longer needs.

Fonzy has become Gus's anchoring in the community as he's always happy to walk alongside his dog. He is also teaching Gus to be ok with new environments and is helping him learn new things and gain self-control. Going out and about has been hugely beneficial for Gus’ physical health, but also for the family as a whole being able to spend time together.

An Assistance Dog creates new opportunities for the whole family of a child with complex needs, allowing them to spend time together doing different activities and removing that feeling of isolation.

"Everyone has the right to lead the best life they can and Assistance Dogs allows those with disabilities to reach their potential."

Donating to the Annual Appeal could potentially change the lives of a whole family. "Fonzy has significantly helped the mental health of our family by allowing us to go out and do different things and not feel isolated anymore. We also think it's a good thing for the community to see diverse young people out and about, doing their thing and learning with the aid of an Assistance Dog. With Fonzy at his side, Gus gets to experience a life that he couldn’t before."