It was a case of 'love at first sight' for Dublin teenager Charlotte BratuBreen when she met Koda, a golden retriever provided by Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland in Mallow, her father has told The Corkman.
A year and a half after the dog arrived from Mallow in their home in Ballyboden, Dublin, Koda has become a vital part of the family and a firm friend of Charlotte, John Breen said, who added that Koda hadn't lost her Cork accent when he barked.
Charlotte was diagnosed with autism when she was just three years old and this affected her in ways which could have put her in danger.
"She was inclined to run away in traffic and this became such a problem that we just stopped going out and about as a family.
"She also suffers from sensory meltdowns, which looks likes she's having a tantrum or can't cope."
According to John, before the arrival of Koda, the family simply had 'no tools' to help them deal with these incidents when they took place. Now Koda is here, they can get out and about again as the dog is attached to Charlotte and keeps her safe.
Now when the sensory meltdown hits, Koda wanders over to Charlotte and nuzzles her and before long the two are hugging and petting and the sensory meltdown has evaporated.
John was speaking as he and Charlotte were appointed as ambassadors for AADI last year in order to become the face of the fundraising campaigns. These have been badly hit due to COVID-19.
Woodie's DIY has nominated AADI as its benefitting charity from this year's Woodie's Heroes campaign.
With a nationwide fundraising target of €250,000, Woodie's plan to raise the much-needed funds through an array of activities - including their attempt to "walk to the moon" through the combined effort of all 1,400 colleagues and loyal customers upping their step count during the four-week fundraiser to cover the incredible distance of 384,400km!