"There is a huge need for the services Assistance Dog New Zealand Trust provides."
My son Lachlan has Cerebral Palsy and Autism. He is awkward on his feet, non-verbal and gets very anxious around people. Lady, his assistance dog, joined us in February 2017 and instantly changed Lachlan’s life, his little sister Isabelle’s life, our lives, and the friends and family around us. Suddenly Lachlan could participate in events that had been too stressful to undertake before. Five days after Lady arrived, we went to the Night Noodle Market on a Sunday afternoon. It was the first outing that we had ever enjoyed as a family, and we stayed for an hour and a half. Normally one parent would go on outings with our daughter, whilst the other stayed home with Lachlan.
Lachlan was excluded from playing with his peers in the neighbourhood. He was the weird kid in the corner who watched everyone else play at the park etc. Parents used to rush their children past him at the shopping centre in case they ask the “wrong” question. Suddenly, the dog attracted both adults and children to Lachlan. They would ask to pat his dog and ask him questions about Lady. Lachlan went from being the outsider to the centre of attention. With that, his confidence grew over time.
Now Lachlan will happily go anywhere with us as a family – in fact helping with the weekly shop is one of his favourite things to do. He has the confidence to engage with both children and adults anywhere we go. At the park, once everyone has had a pat with Lady, he runs off to play with the kids now. For the wider community, they get to engage with a disabled child in a way they never did before and understand more about how to communicate. Disability is less frightening. We regularly have people in our suburb come up to us and comment on the changes they see with Lachlan. This is only one tiny aspect of the life-changing impact Lady has had on our lives. There is a huge need for the services Assistance Dog New Zealand Trust provides.