Meet Dug – the gorgeous labrador from Sheffield helping youngsters with autism
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Dug the gorgeous yellow Labrador puppy is one of thousands bought by well-meaning dog-lovers during lockdown – only to find they could no longer cope with the demands of canine ownership when they went back to work after lockdown lifted.
Happily for Dug, his owners were responsible dog lovers who decided to drive from their home on the south coast to deliver him to Support Dogs in Sheffield – the national charity well known for its commitment to giving ‘an unwanted pet a second chance.’
Now aged 14 months, he is on the charity’s puppy programme and is currently being looked after by his puppy socialisers in Sheffield before starting his full-time training in the New Year at Support Dogs’ training centre in Brightside.
Puppy coordinator at Support Dogs Bronte Craig reports that Dug is making remarkable progress and is likely to be earmarked for a future as an autism assistance dog, tasked with keeping a young child with autism safe and providing invaluable companionship.
“He’s a lovely big boy, very placid, very calm, who absolutely loves being with people and is already very good with children,” says Bronte. “We think he has all the attributes to make a wonderful autism assistance dog.”
Reverend Chris Lowe and husband John, from Chapeltown, both retired former special needs teachers, have been Dug’s puppy socialisers for the past three months and are clearly smitten by the handsome Lab.
“He’s got a lovely personality, and he loves everybody,” says Chris, who is also a former vicar.
Chris and John take Dug with them when they attend St John’s Church in Owlerton, and he’s a big favourite with the congregation, in particular, a young boy with autism, who adores him.
Chris and John have looked after assistance dogs in training and puppies for Support Dogs for the past seven years and have cared for more than ten dogs, but say that Dug is their favourite.
They are not looking forward to saying goodbye to Dug in spring next year when he starts the next stage of his training.
For more information about Support Dogs go to www.supportdogs.org.uk