Every family dog is special, but this four-legged friend means even more to little Milly Kay than most.
Onyx, a labrador-retriever cross, is helping transform 10-year-old Milly’s life.
Milly, from Cleveleys, was born with a rare congenital disorder, Glycosylation Type 1a, and Onyx, three, helps her overcome not only her physical difficulties – but isolation problems too, as her speech problems can make it difficult for her to join in.
Loyal and affectionate, assistance dog Onyx helps Milly will all manner of tasks – including helping her take her socks and jacket off, picking things up for her and fetching out-of-reach items – such as clothing, her leg splints or toys.
Mum Katie Allen said: “It’s not just the physical help Onyx gives Milly. It’s also comfort and reassurance. She’s a great friend to Milly and provides companionship.
“Onyx will just sense when Milly’s upset and come over to soothe her. They formed an instant bond. Straight away, Onyx took herself to sleep by Milly’s bed and she was constantly by her side.
“She is such a lovely dog, so chilled out and relaxed – she makes a really good companion for Milly.”
Milly’s condition means she can’t fully control her body, has weak muscle tone and loose joints – she can’t walk independently and struggles to hold a pen. She can use a walking frame for a maximum of about 20 minutes and goes to school in a wheelchair.
As Milly gets older, Onyx will be able to help her with more independence, hopefully allowing her to do things like go to the shops on her own.
Katie said: “Seeing what Onyx can do, opening doors and drawers and pressing access buttons, I know Milly will gain increasing independence as she grows into adolescence. Onyx will be able to help give her that independence and confidence.”
Milly said: “I’ve loved her since she came here. She’s a good friend. She sleeps next to my bed and she meets me off the school bus.
“When I’m out with Onyx, everyone wants to talk to me and find out about her.
“My mum has a dog too, called Maggie Moo, she is just a puppy and Onyx gets on really well with her.”
Onyx gets on well with all the family – including dad Paul and Milly’s younger brother Alfie, aged six.
Katie, a healthcare assistant who plans to train as a nurse, said: “Onyx really is a fantastic addition to the family. She is an affectionate softie and off-duty, has her silly moments.
“She likes playing with Alfie in the garden. And she absolutely loves the beach and paddling.”
Milly added: “She loves puddles. When we go out, she goes straight to any water and rolls about in it.
“We have a bag of special treats for her and she gets a treat when she helps me.”
The family can’t speak highly enough of Dogs for the Disabled, which Katie found out about after bumping into local man Les Pearson, with his assistance dog in a local supermarket.
She said: “Dogs for the Disabled do a brilliant job.
“There are waiting lists of course, and the puppies have to go through training, so we waited about two years to get Onyx.
“Katie was so excited – she kept asking when she was coming. She was definitely worth the wait.”
To find out about the charity, visit www.dogsforthedisabled.org.