“Ash joined our family in September 2015, when Darragh was 7 years old.
Since getting an assistance dog, we have been able to do many things together that other families take for granted – for example, going out for lunch or dinner, taking a trip to the shops or going for a Sunday walk. These types of activities were simply not possible for us before we had Ash because of Darragh’s inability to cope with unfamiliar situations and new environments and, in particular, our very real concerns for his safety. Even a visit to Santa or a trip to a toy shop was distressing for him in the past.
Prior to get an assistance dog, places like the city centre were “no go zones” for us because Darragh could have broken away from us and run off into traffic. We were also fearful of going anywhere with Darragh that was close to water since he had tried to get into rivers and lakes in the past. We had to install a number of security measures in our home to prevent Darragh from constantly escaping and at times it felt as though we were prisoners in our own home.
We are now much more relaxed about going out in public and feel like we are able to engage more in our local community. We can also stay out for longer and feel more confident about making plans. Ash has also helped greatly with medical appointments, trips to the dentist, haircuts, feet measuring and shoe shopping. He snuggles into Darragh when he senses distress and lets Darragh stroke his ears for comfort.
Ash has made Darragh’s invisible disability visible to others – when people see the dog, they tend to be more patient and understanding because they are aware that our son has additional needs, and staff in shops and restaurants are that bit more attentive once they see we have an assistance dog with us.
Ash has expanded our world in a way we didn’t think would ever be possible. He has been a wonderful addition to our family and we would genuinely struggle without him.” Maura (Mother)
“Since Ash joined our family we’ve been able to go to lots of places that simply weren’t accessible to us before. He has made our world bigger. Ash has played a major role in keeping Darragh safe as well as being a loyal and loving friend to him. He makes the invisible visible – when Darragh is with Ash, people tend to be more helpful and accommodating of his particular needs. We are truly indebted to ash and to all the wonderful people at ADNI who have worked with him.
Ash is a wonderful dog and we are delighted he is part of our family”. Stephen (Father)
To keep up to date with Darragh and Ash, follow their story on facebook: