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Austin & Pancho's Story

Austin and Therapy Dog Pancho hugging with their tongues sticking out

When Austin was born, he was very sick.

Austin had bleeding on his brain - it was haemophilia. Austin's family were devastated and didn't know what to expect and how it would impact their lives moving forward.

"Sometimes it would feel like we were prisoners in our own home."

Austin had to attend daily hospital appointments that involved getting a needle injection to his chest. This scary experience almost always led to tears and anxiety attacks.

Austin also has autism and found it very difficult to make friends which inevitably lead to Austin withdrawing from his family.

Every day tasks such as sleep became an ordeal. Even attending day care, speech therapy or just getting some milk and bread from the supermarket was all too overwhelming for Austin...until he met his Therapy Dog Pancho.

Austin hugging his Therapy Dog Pancho and a pink love heart just above them

When Austin Met Therapy Dog Pancho

Since Therapy Dog Pancho became part of the family, everything changed. From being able to attend speech therapy, to Austin making new friends and getting a good night’s sleep, his life has transformed.

Pancho is a very calm and laid-back dog and he teaches Austin to be calm too. They're the best of friends and Pancho always knows exactly what to do to comfort Austin.

When Austin attends his daily hospital appointment, Pancho sits right by his side the whole way through even if it means sitting there for hours at a time. Appointments that seemed impossible before are now simple and Austin just loves to tell everyone about his puppy Pancho.

Austin embracing Pancho with their heads touching and eyes closed

Message from Austin's Mum, Francina

Life is never easy, but we are one of the lucky ones. There are 45 people waiting for a life-changing dog like Pancho. Demand is so high, as the waiting list grows longer so does the time it takes for families to get their own Therapy dog.

When I think about how tough life was before Pancho, I don’t know how we could have waited any longer. Yet that’s the awful reality facing people living with a special need right now — unless someone like you can help.

People like you have opened a whole new world for Austin that we never dreamed possible.

That’s the difference your support has made to my family. And that’s why I hope you will support Guide Dogs with a donation that will help train a Therapy dog, so another child like Austin can have that amazing support they need.

I never knew that what Pancho does was possible. You can’t imagine it until you see and experience it.

Pancho and Austin sitting side by side

How You Can Help

There are 45 families who are currently waiting for their own Therapy dog. The only way we can keep up with the demand is to breed, raise and train more therapy dogs like Pancho.

When most people think of us, they think of Guide Dogs. But a Guide Dog is just one of the ways in which we support the community.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT also provides a variety of support services such as the Therapy Dog Program to assist those whom experience behavioural, emotional and mental health conditions, physical disabilities, or isolation caused by age or illness.

Our Therapy Dogs can improve quality of life by reducing anxiety, increasing physical activity, a sense of community and well- being, encouraging routine and commitment, and of course providing non-judgemental and unwavering friendship.

This is why your donation could make a big difference to children like Austin