Let me introduce you to this week’s Pup of the Week, Honey. This little lady is an assistance dog that plays a very central role in a little girl’s life in Ballymena, NI. That little girl is Becca, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of Autism back in December 2011 at just four-years-old. This condition had made life very difficult for her, she didn’t like going out, her confidence was low and generally what other children could do was very difficult for Becca due to her sensory issues.
That’s where Honey comes in, Honey’s job is to look after Becca, to reassure her when she feels stressed, or to act as an anchor in unfamiliar situations where Becca is overwhelmed. This wonderful dog has had a huge impact on Becca’s life already.
Becca’s mother Michelle told ScoobyBox a little about her amazing dog, “Honey is a three-and-a-half year old Golden Retriever, she is one of the first Autism Assistance Dogs in NI and our daughters best friend in the world. We got her through a charity called Assistance Dogs NI back in January 2014. I couldn’t believe it when we got a phone call from one of the directors to say that they had a couple of dogs that might be suited to Becca.”
When they met, it was a match made in Heaven, “Honey and another dog came for a visit and it was very clear that Honey was the one. Her and Becca had an instant bond. Within a short space of time the difference Honey was making was huge.”
Honey’s introduction to the family made life so much easier for Becca, and her parents who now had a companion for Becca when they needed a break themselves, “We couldn’t believe it, whenever Becca was stressed Honey would lick and cuddle her, making her laugh and within a couple of minutes we had the problem sorted.” said Michelle.
These little ladies quickly became inseperable, and the best partners in the world, “Becca now calls Honey her fluffy sister, she listens to all of her worries and they work them out together. Honey is the best anxiety buster ever, there is no stopping the “Barker Girls” as we call them, they go everywhere together.”
Honey’s impact goes far outside the house too, “Becca is now able to take on tasks in her life that were impossible before, now Becca can go other places children her age take for granted, like shows, shopping and we even were on the Stena Line back in September for a Pirates and Princess Day, they had an absolute blast. Becca even had the courage to take part in the Karaoke.” Michelle told us.
Honey is bringing some semblance of normality to Becca’s life, which was incredibly hard to imagine before she came into the family’s life, “Becca is nof finally living her life and enjoys to socialise very much, which is all down to Honey. Everyone remarks how alike they are now and Becca says she feels safe and confident with her sister by her side.”
Michelle is forever grateful to Honey for all she has done, and continues to do, for her and the family, “Honey truly is our hero and she has turned all of our lives around including our extended family. Honey is absolutely everything to us, some people reading this might think these are all tiny things and may seem insignificant but these are huge for Becca and our family.”
Honey is still a hard-working doggy, because she doesn’t want anything to happen to Becca, as Michelle explains, “When she is working she wears a special purple jacket and harness with a handle for Becca to hold onto. When her uniform goes on Honey understands she’s on full working mode and doesn’t like to be distracted. She keeps Becca safe scanning when they’re out and about, stopping at kerbs, reassuring Becca if she frightened either socially and emotionally and most importantly, we can trust Honey to keep Becca safe.”
Honey is actually a life-saver for Becca, in a literal sense, “Once at a set of traffic lights a driver went through a red light and Honey saved her life by yanking her back.”
When Honey gets time to wind down off-duty she’s a real character, “She loves to play and spend time at the forest and beach. At home Honey doesn’t wear her uniform but if Becca cries Honey is by her side in a flash to give a helping paw if required. Becca can even now have birthday parties and enjoy Christmas because of her fluffy sister.”
Michelle is aware of the huge part Assistance Dogs Northern Ireland played in this transformation of Becca’s life, “We will always be grateful to ADNI and the trainers for introducing this wonderful dog & friend to our family. Becca is now referring to Honey as a Wonder Dog & ADNI are always there if we have any queries regarding training etc.”
Michelle finished by saying, “Before Honey we were isolated but now Becca has even made friends via Facebook with other families with an assistance dog, and Becca gets to see other children with disabilities. Honey has brought us all together and we love her more than anything in the world.”
A big thank you to Michelle Barker for telling us all about Honey.
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