Queensland, Australia. March, 2016.
In the second week of March, five-year-old Gabriella Alderson threw a sleepover party for a very special friend called Derrick. They had only met a couple of times before and Gabriella’s mum Natasha was hoping their friendship would continue. Luckily, the Kuluin mum didn’t have to worry.
“She absolutely loves him,” Natasha said. “Derrick gives Gabriella plenty of kisses and she gives him cuddles and lots of pats. She’s very happy he’s coming over for a sleepover. It’s going to be a bit hard giving him back afterwards.”
Derrick is a 12-month-old golden retriever who is undergoing training to become Gabriella’s assistance dog.
“Derrick will be an extra set of eyes and ears and body to stop her from harm and keep her safe,” Natasha said.
At three months old, Gabriella began having seizures, which got worse until at five months she was diagnosed with rare genetic disorder Aicardi syndrome.
Before she had turned two she had surgery to remove 5cm of her brain, then at three was diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder.
Despite the struggles she’s had to endure in only five years of life, Natasha said her daughter was “making great process and defying the odds”.
Gabriella gets scared in crowded or stressful situations and assistance pup Derrick will help calm her down and prevent her from running away.
Unfortunately training Derrick to be a full-time carer dog will cost $19,000.AUD, but isn’t it incredible that a dog will devote its life to help a human?