‘Lady’ lending a helping paw
Getting an assistance dog changed 8-year-old Lachlan Carnahan’s life ‘‘overnight’’, his dad says.
The Christchurch boy has lowtone cerebral palsy, global developmental delay and autism.
After three years on a waiting list, he was introduced to his new assistance dog, Lady, in February.
Parents Sam and Sinead Carnahan were amazed by the change in Lachlan almost immediately.
‘‘It was overnight that she changed how he sees the world and how he interacts with the world,’’ Sam Carnahan said. ‘‘Something as mundane as going to the supermarket, he enjoys it because he gets to spend time with the dog.’’
Lachlan struggled with social anxiety and balance, but Lady was able to help him stay calm and steady.
‘‘For all of us, the stress level in the house has just massively decreased,’’ Sinead Carnahan said. ‘‘[Lady has] really impacted all of us.’’
The family want to help others who could benefit from having an assistance dog by promoting Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust’s annual appeal week.
‘‘The trust came down and spent two weeks just teaching us how to manage Lady and Lachlan and I think in that two weeks we probably got more guidance with how to handle disability and anxiety and autism than we have from all the other therapists put together,’’ Sinead Carnahan said.
The trust is one of six training and providing assistance dogs for people with physical and neurological disabilities in New Zealand.
Trust co-founder Julie Hancox said assistance dogs were not just for people with blindness, but could also help those with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, physical disabilities, dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
It takes 18 months and up to $48,000 to breed, train and place a dog with a family in need.
The trust helps 37 people around the country, of which 90 per cent are children with disabilities, but has 74 families on its waiting list.
Its annual Lend a Paw appeal, held from August 6 to 13 this year, aims to raise $100,000 to provide two more families with an assistance dog.
"It was overnight that she changed how he sees the world and how he interacts.'' Lachlan's dad, Sam Carnahan
Donations can be made online at assistancedogstrust.org.nz/ donations/