Isla’s special companion Bo
Just over a month ago Bo moved in with the Stythe family.
A trained assistance dog, Bo has become a companion to Isla Stythe, 7, who has a rare chromosome deletion disorder.
Isla’s mum, Sara, says the positive impact Bo has had on the family, who live in Glendowie, has been huge.
‘‘Those with assistance dogs told me our lives would change but I must admit I was quietly sceptical.
‘‘However now as these changes have become the norm, I have to keep reminding myself how things are so much better and easier ‘after Bo’ and he really has made a difference in our lives,’’ Sara says.
Assistance dogs are different to guide dogs as they are purposebred and trained to assist a range of disabilities.
In 2013, Isla was diagnosed with 2q23.1 Microdeletion Syndrome, which causes autism, development delay and epilepsy.
Sara says Isla is a sensory seeker, meaning she needs to touch to explore her environment constantly.
This meant walking could be a challenge for Isla’s parents, as she would constantly want to stop to explore her environment.
‘‘Walking now is completely different. Tethered to Bo, Isla has the freedom to still touch or at least try to but she keeps a steady pace.
‘‘She likes to feel the different textures of the fences as we walk up the hill from school and names them woody, smooth, bumpy.’’
It costs $48,000 to raise and train a dog through its lifetime, and Assistance Dogs NZ asks the families to fundraise $20,000 towards this.
The Stythes fundraised $23,000 for Bo and Sara says they are incredibly grateful to everyone who donated.
Bo and Isla will be taking part in this year’s Woof and Walk event organised by Assistance Dogs New Zealand at One Tree Hill Domain.
The event is an organised group walk for dog owners to raise awareness and funds for the charity. As well as the walk there will be activities for dogs and a photo booth for kids.
The Woof and Walk event is on November 13. The walk starts at 1.30pm. Entry costs $10 per person, children are free.
For more information go to assistancedogstrust.org.nz/woofand-walk-2016/.
Assistance dog Bo helps Isla walk and comforts her when she sleeps at night.