The relationship between a ten-year-old boy, who has autism and ADHD, and his four-legged best friend is ‘astonishing’, according to his family.
Mum Anna Roche, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, and her partner Gordon Mitchell, 45, adopted a golden Labrador to help their son George.
The 47-year-old mum, a fundraising consultant, adopted Ollie the dog from a charity in 2016.
As autism can affect people’s social skills and ADHD causes inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness, George can find it hard to unwind after a busy day.
But Ollie helps to regulate him, calming him down with plenty of cuddles, so he is relaxed before bed.
The adorable pooch also helps to soothe George if he feels anxious or frustrated while outside.
The pair are so close that mum Anna says they are more like brothers.
Anna said: ‘George loves Ollie more than anything in the world and sees him as a sibling. They are always side-by-side.
‘Ollie helps regulate him and keep him safe. He will corral him like a sheepdog and round him up if he runs off – which he often does!
‘When we got him, Ollie was this young, tiny, energetic thing, but he also had this calming effect, which comes naturally to Labradors. He was loving and nurturing, and boy and dog quickly became best pals.
‘Although George is fearless, he was nervous of dogs until he met Ollie. As soon as he saw him, he was cuddling up to him.’
Every day Ollie accompanies George on the drive to school and says goodbye at the gates, before being there to meet him at the end of the day.
The dog, who the family even takes on holiday with them, knows George’s needs and will act accordingly.
Anna said: ‘When George is sad or crying, he will bury his head in Ollie’s fur and cuddle him – talking to him in his own doggy language.
‘If George is having a tantrum, Ollie will wait patiently with him until it’s over. He’s like a nanny dog, always watching over him.
‘Ollie somehow knows he is here to help George. It’s like he knows he was appointed to serve and look after him. He’s incredibly sensitive to his needs.’
Anna has noticed a marked difference in George’s wellbeing since they teamed him up with Ollie.
She and partner Gordon first noticed George’s behaviour when he was four, when he wasn’t hitting the same benchmarks as other children his age.
When he turned six, in 2016, George was diagnosed with autism and a year later, severe ADHD.
George’s school caters to his needs with smaller classes, outdoor learning, and a menagerie of animals.
‘It’s like a mini zoo. Animals are so good for children who have special needs,’ Anna said.
‘He has lots of friends, too. He was considered disruptive at his last school, but they really understand him at this one.’
Ollie has now won the Companion Pet of the Year category of the Petplan Pet Awards 2020 – a nationwide competition to celebrate exceptional pets.
Anna said: ‘George was delighted that his best friend had won and was so proud of him.
‘We couldn’t have asked for a better companion for our lovely boy.’
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