Esmeralda and I are booked onto a course run by Dogs for the Disabled this year, where we can learn how to train a family pet to become an autism assistance dog for Peter. The dog we already had, Lady, unfortunately is completely unsuitable - we love her very much but she's too easily excited to be the calm presence we need from an assistance dog. We've been looking in various rescues and shelters for the right dog on and off for about a year, and a couple of weeks ago we found her. She's a one year old labrador husky cross, amazing with children, very bright, still very much a big puppy but surprisingly unflappable (which is important because in our house there's certainly a lot of happy flapping!)
I'm going to call her Nana for the blog, (it would be wonderful if she learned how to make the children's beds like her namesake on Peter Pan!) we're sure she'll do well with her training, she's already an integral part of the family.
After a bit of a rocky start, she and Lady became best friends. They whine when they're separated and they play beautifully together.
Peter's reaction to Nana came as a bit of a shock to us. It took him months to even acknowledge Lady when he moved in, it was like she wasn't even there and he hasn't ever spoken to her directly. He hasn't been interested in animals whatsoever - zoos and farm parks are the worst places ever in Peter's opinion, unless they have a good playground! Imagine our surprise when after less than an hour in the house we heard hysterical laughter coming from the bathroom where Peter was eating his pudding in the bath and found Nana with her paws up on the side of the tub being fed spoonfuls of yoghurt by a giggling Peter saying "one for Peter, one for Nana"! (Not something we would normally encourage but it was so lovely we turned a blind eye.) That night, and every night since, she fell asleep at the end of his bed during his bedtime story, much to his delight. The first thing he says every morning is a cheerful "Good morning Nana!" and he's keenly interested in watching Nana's routine and the commands she's learning. We're sure this is the start of a lifelong friendship.