Ava and Gypsy


Ava is 12 years old, diagnosed with Autism and Epilepsy. Ava is non verbal and very much a loner. She had high levels of anxiety when entering shopping centres or public places with a large number of people. We heard about service dogs which can help children like Ava manage their anxieties and struggles in public environments as well as her difficulties with regulating her emotions. Ava can be happy one minute then can be sad, frustrated and angry the next. Due to her being non verbal it’s very hard for my husband and I to determine what she is feeling and why.

We decided to try and get a service dog to help Ava, I looked into many organisations that provide service dogs but found Smart Pups to be the simplest and most responsive. They helped us through the process and the staff are amazing, making a process that seemed difficult and confusing so much easier to understand and manage. They were available and responded to questions or concerns promptly.

Gypsy was placed with Ava in May 2018. Gypsy was trained in tracking, tethering, anchoring, lap and nuzzling and her easy-going nature has made a huge difference in Ava and her behaviour. Ava is much more relaxed in public areas and shopping centres and during times of emotional outbursts Gypsy will nuzzle or provide a distraction so Ava calms down immediately. When Ava was unwell Gypsy would lay with her, keeping her company. Gypsy is not only a support to Ava but has become a beloved member of our family and we can’t imagine not having her with us.

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