For nine-year-old Toby, who has Down Syndrome, dogs were his greatest fear. It was a distressing situation for him and becoming a real problem for his family - that was until Ellie came into their lives.
After learning from a friend about Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's Pets As Therapy (PAT) program, Toby's mother Susanna took a gamble that while dogs were the problem, they might also be the solution, and she was right! If any dog was around, Toby, all 30 kilograms of him, would have to be carried. He would cry and the look on his face was terrifying.
This has all changed since PAT Dog Ellie arrived earlier this year. Despite an initial standoff by Toby, Ellie's patience and big brown Labrador eyes won out and within two days the pair was rolling around together on the floor. Toby now proudly walks Ellie around the soccer fields near their Sydney home on the weekends, and he feeds and plays with her all the time. Susanna says the change in Toby is incredible. Ellie has been a real gift for the whole family, and brings out the best in her other three sons as well.
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