Meet Kelly - the gorgeous labrador from Sheffield about to change a boy's life by becoming his autism assistance dog
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Sheffield charity Support Dogs have taken care of Kelly for most of her two years, after she arrived at their Brightside training centre at just eight weeks old.
She has now left to become an autism assistance dog for a young boy in South Yorkshire, and will help him to stay safe and navigate the world with confidence.
Kelly was due to join her new family a year ago, but Support Dogs’ training programme was put on hold because of the pandemic, and the pooch ended up staying with her foster family for 14 months – instead of the usual three.
Support Dogs’ trainer Amy, who trained Kelly along with instructor Kate, is confident that Kelly will make up for lost time.
Amy said: “She is a lovely, gentle dog, and absolutely perfect to work with a child with autism.
“She completed her training two months early, having raced through it, and was very keen to learn. She can also be really giddy and loves to play with a ball and have her belly rubbed! But she’s calm when she needs to be.”
Many children with autism have a very limited sense of danger or of the consequences of their actions.
Support Dogs trains its autism assistance dogs to keep a child safe using a wide range of methods, reducing the risk of injury or distress for the child and reducing stress and anxiety for the child’s family.
Kelly and her ‘human’ are expected to qualify as a Support Dogs’ autism assistance partnership by the end of the year.
More information about Support Dogs can be found on its website: www.supportdogs.org.uk