After pursuing every therapy avenue, from physio to occupational and play therapy, eight-year old Hugh had made significant progress managing with his autism but still struggled with certain aspects of life. Hugh couldn’t handle loud noises, busy places like parks and shopping centres, or anything out of his normal routine.
Hugh’s Smart Pup was selected because his gentle and affectionate nature was a perfect match for Hugh and they share a cheeky sense of humour. One-year old Bailey was trained for eight months before being placed with Hugh. Special task-specific training included tracking, tethering, lap pressure and nuzzling for interrupting meltdowns. Bailey is sweet and gentle with a playful side but always wants to please and do the right thing. After just a few weeks of his Smart Pup placement, Hugh was able to attend an Anzac Day service – something the family would never have thought possible before.
Since having Bailey, Hugh is much calmer when out at the shops and social events, and has fewer meltdowns. If he is feeling overwhelmed, he sits beside Bailey and gently pats him. The family can now enjoy social outings together too. Before Bailey, someone would stay home with Hugh but now, if Bailey goes, then Hugh is happy to follow.
Bailey’s tracking skills are used when out and about, and the harness attached to Hugh whenever they go to the shops stops him from bolting and brings him along when he refuses to move. Bailey knows when Hugh is stressed and licks and nuzzles him to reassure him and is an incredibly calming influence on Hugh and his family.