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Tuesday 20 March 2018

'Lenny has changed our lives' – Meet 'Nose of Tralee' 2017 as Ireland’s best dog crowned

Lenny and Darragh (8)
Lenny and Darragh (8)
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A service dog who helps a young boy with autism has been crowned this year's 'Nose of Tralee'.

The Nose of Tralee is a novelty competition run by Pet Sitters Ireland to crown Ireland’s best animal. The event which is its fourth year is open to all pets and one is selected from each county.

This year, it was the Louth Nose, four-year-old Lenny, who won the award for the care he gives eight-year-old Darragh McNally.

Mum Colleen McNally, from Dundalk, Co Louth said their Golden Doodle service dog has completely changed their family’s life.

Lenny and Darragh (8)
Lenny and Darragh (8)

“I saw the competition on Facebook and thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight the importance of service dogs for kids with autism.

“Lenny has completely changed our family’s life. Darragh has autism and he’s a flight risk so he’s very hard to keep from running off.

“Two years ago we got Lenny and the difference in Darragh has been amazing.

“Whenever we go out now Lenny has a jacket with a belt that we can attach to Darragh. We’ve trained Lenny to listen to our commands so when we’re crossing a road, we can tell Lenny to wait and Darragh will follow him. Or if Darragh runs off and we tell Lenny to stop, Darragh will stop too.”

The winning Golden Doodle will receive loads of treats, a photoshoot and a camera that will allow his owners to keep an eye on him when they’re away.

“There’s loads of great prizes but for us it was about highlighting how great these dogs can be for kids with autism.

“It can be hard for them to make friends so it’s great to see Darragh and Lenny playing together outside and having someone there for Darragh.

“It was never a pity story about how our son has autism. It was about how great Lenny is and how much our family loves him.”

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