Caz and the kids have settled well together
It took Gretchen Good and Dan Nash three years to save for an assistance dog.
A year ago Caz arrived, and the Palmerston North parents of Leo and Tiffany Nash agree the specially trained animal has added so much to their quality of life.
Leo, 7 and Tiffany, 5 have Down syndrome. Both have orthopaedic and muscular problems, while Leo is visually impaired.
‘‘She has truly become the beloved fifth family member in our household,’’ Good said ’’She has helped us in so many ways, and is a loved, comforting presence in our home.’’
Caz has a special harness that allows each child to have their own dog lead. She was the first dog trained to be tethered to two children at once.
‘‘They can either just hold onto it or it can be clipped onto their belt or backpack.’’
The dog provides freedom for the children and their parents. When they walk together as a family, the children can’t run off impulsively.
‘‘They are happy to stick close to Caz. They walk further than ever before and Leo, who is legally blind, knows where he is because he likes to trail right behind Caz’s tail.’’
With a Give A Little page givealittle.co.nz/cause/assistdog4two, the couple has raised over $16,000 of the $20,000 they need to pay toward the cost of rearing and training Caz, with all donations going directly to Assistance Dogs New Zealand.
The cost of an assistance dog is $48,000, and in eight years 30 dogs have been placed with families in need.
Assistance Dogs appeal week runs until Saturday 13.
Leo Nash, 7, and Tiffany Nash, 5, have enjoyed the company of assistance dog Caz for one year.