15 Jun Who needs a Smart Pup?
HUNDREDS of children with special needs are raising money for a Smart Pup to help them with day-to-day life, such as six-year-old Lila who has already reached her $20,000 fundraising target.
Through the family’s fundraising campaign on the Smart Pups website, friends, families and strangers have made donations and offered messages of encouragement to help little Lila who has a rare medical condition, known as CHARGE syndrome.
Lila is also deaf and was implanted with cochlear implants at 8 months old, is partially blind in one eye and has difficulties with eating and drinking.
Just 19 hours after being born, she had her first surgery for cardiac issues and had open-heart surgery at 6 months old. She had 186 medical appointments in her first 6 months of life.
Doctors did not expect her to be able to walk, but she has defied the odds. Balance, however, remains a problem and an assistance dog will help Lila gain some independence and confidence in outdoor settings.
A Smart Pup could provide her with stability and be a visual cue to others that they need to be careful around her. If she is ever to injure herself from a fall, her pup could alert others that she needs help and be there to provide her comfort until help comes.
All children waiting for a Smart Pup are at difference stages of their journeys. Some have already raised the required $20,000, while others have just started.
The fundraising campaign for Sunny Rose, who was born in 2008 with a chromosome translocation, sits at $3900.
Sunny’s condition is extremely rare and due to its severity, she cannot talk and walk and has both hearing and vision impairment. She also has uncontrolled epilepsy with almost daily seizures.
Getting a Smart Pup will change Sunny’s life. A pup can alert mum when Sunny is having a seizure and will also help in the recovery process after the seizure, which can be very hard as Sunny is both tired and a bit upset. A Smart Pup may even predict when a seizure is about to happen so her mum can take necessary precautions.
Also on the waiting list for a Smart Pup is 6-year-old Charley who has been diagnosed with Autism Level 2, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Social Communication Disorder and Generalist Anxiety.
Conventional treatment methods have been unsuccessful, and Charley is deteriorating.
His family hopes an Autism Assistance Dog will change their lives and help Charley navigate the world, whilst dramatically reducing the amount of meltdowns Charley has, which would significantly impact the entire family’s life.
So far just $15 has been donated to Charley’s Smart Pup family fundraising campaign which was launched on 16 May 2022.
Sunny and Charley are just two of hundreds of beautiful children with special needs relying on generous community donations to help them get a fully trained Smart Pup to suit their unique requirements.
Since 2011, the Sunshine Coast-based charity has provided 270 assistance dogs to children with special needs. Smart Pups trains autism service dogs, seizure response dogs and multi-purpose assistance dogs to help children with day-to-day routines, activities and events.
The puppies being general training at eight weeks of age and by the time they are 10-11 months old, start an Advanced Training Program which includes ‘task specific’ training modules when they are matched with a child. Their training is targeted so that their skills meet that child’s needs.
Some become Autism Assistance dogs, while others are trained to specialise in Medical/Diabetic Alert dogs, Seizure Response, Mobility Assistance and Vision Assistance.
Having a loving and highly skilled canine companion can increase a child’s independence, improve social interaction and life experience, provide a feeling of safety, confidence and happiness that leads to improved self-esteem, and improve wellbeing.
If you want to help, all donations are tax deductible and can be made to a specific child at www.smartpups.org.au/campaigns/