Oliver and his buddy dog Lucy
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How an autistic child learned to say 'I love you'

What happens to the dogs who are trained but don't quite make it as fully-fledged guide dogs?

The answer is that they are given a "career change" and could become a sniffer dog, an assistance dog for physically disabled people or be re-homed as a pet. But a newer service from Guide Dogs repurposes specially chosen ones as "buddy dogs" to help blind and partially sighted children who would benefit from having a well trained dog.

"Lucy was life-changing from the moment she arrived," says Sarah Smith, whose six-year-old son Oliver has a visual impairment and autism. "From the very start whenever Oliver had an autistic meltdown he would shout for Lucy and she would come and lie down next to him and calm him down. The effect she has on him is incredible."

The organisation says it can improve the quality of life for a child, enhance confidence, boost self esteem, increase levels of exercise and counter isolation.

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Video Journalist: Kate Monaghan

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  • 08 Jan 2015
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