THE bond between a child and a dog can be powerful.
This is why the Lawrie family has been fundraising to get their daughter an assistance dog.
Nine-year-old Zoe has a rare chromosomal disorder (Trisomy 15), which means amongst other developmental challenges, she cannot communicate verbally, suffers from significant intellectual impairment, is partially vision-impaired, and is in need of a specially trained dog to help her. But training an assistance dog for a special needs child takes time and professional skills.
The cost of purchasing and training an assistance dog is up to $20,000 and to maintain the dog's training another $1500 is needed annually.
The dog also needs to be re-certified every other year.
Should assistance dogs be subsidised by the government?
This poll ended on 26 April 2016.
If we can afford it, sure.
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Parents Mitch and Cynthia have been fundraising with the support of the Sunshine Coast community to come up with the money needed.
"It has been so touching how the community has got behind us, especially at the bingo night fundraiser last October," Mrs Lawrie said.
She said during the past year, with a dedicated teacher at school and intensive therapy at home, she had seen the biggest change in Zoe in the last five years.
But the Buderim family believes an assistance dog would be a great benefit.
"We are sure she would love to do what other kids her age do, but her lack of functional communication and her different way of playing makes it difficult for her to make friends of any age," Mrs Lawrie said
Mr Lawrie said Zoe loved going out and having a variety of experiences and outings each day.
"We are tired a lot of the time, as Zoe's sleep is still not regular," he said.
"We are hoping that the dog will help settle her when she wakes in the middle of the night, or at least distract her so that we can get better sleep."
The pup that was meant to go to Zoe was Bonnie (pictured), however, it turns out that her character is unsuitable to be trained as Zoe's assistance dog.
Thankfully, under the Lawrie's contract with Australian Companion and Assistance Dogs (ACAD), Zoe will be assigned another dog.
ACAD owner and trainer Dave Haywood said each recipient of an assistance dog had different needs.
"In Zoe's case, we are mainly focused on training a dog that has a calm and confident demeanour that can be left alone with Zoe to occupy her and provide Mitch and Cynthia with some respite of their own," he said.
For more information or to donate visit http://www.teamzoe.net.
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