Charlie was diagnosed with Congenital Bilateral Cataracts at just 5 weeks of age and had her first surgery to remove the cataracts and lenses a week later. Shortly after this surgery she developed seizures and was admitted to hospital for tests which showed that she had a rare brain disorder called Neuronal Migration Disorder. At the same time, it was found that she also had a Congenital Heart Defect called Coarctation of the Aorta which required emergency heart surgery to repair all this was done by the time she was just 10 weeks old. This was a difficult and stressful time for Charlie's family but she proved herself to be a strong and stubborn young lady. During her first year Charlie was constantly in and out of hospitals and made friends in anyone who came into her life from nurses, cleaning staff, other families etc.
As a result of her cataracts she had to wear contact lenses until the age of 2 when she had an artificial lens implanted into her right eye. This unfortunately was ineffective so she was registered severely sight impaired (blind). Despite this diagnosis she is still able to recognise important people, toys and even the TV remote!
Also at the age of 2 Charlie developed oral aversion (fear of eating) after a nasty chest infection and has since been tube fed, first via an NG tube, then Gastrostomy button. After 5 years, we still struggle to get her to try any food orally.
Due to her brain disorder Charlie is non-verbal, suffers from low muscle tone and osteoporosis so requires a wheelchair to get around. Despite all this she enjoys going to school, day trips out with the family and holidays.
So how did we get involved with Pawsitive squad CIC? Well, Charlie's grandparents have a Cavachon called scrappy who they got as a puppy 5 years ago. Scrappy learnt that Charlie was not like the other children so taught himself to lie down by her feet and crawl up the side of her body to give her chance to acknowledge his presence before he would give her a cheeky ear lick! He would also alert us to her seizures.
For years I have been toying with the idea of getting a dog of our own so when I saw an advert for Cavachon puppies I quickly fell in love with Lady and collected her in April 2018. I realised that it would be hard to self-train Lady to be Charlie's support dog but along came Heather and I was delighted to meet her at her first consultation session. We've been a part of Pawsitive Squad ever since.
With Heather's help Charlie and Lady have now become inseparable with Lady being able to anticipate Charlie's mood and she is able to cuddle up to Charlie and apply positive pressure to help soothe her. Most nights you can find them both snuggled up asleep together. Lady walks alongside the wheelchair and we are working on her fetching toys back to Charlie should she drop them. Lady is calmer than she was and follows instructions well and I believe that this wouldn't have been possible without the help of Pawsitive squad and the lovely Heather.
We have been on so many adventures this past year and we were even able to go camping with the brilliant Paws in tents in April which has given us a new found confidence to do things that previously would seem impossible with such a complex needs child and we are looking forward to many more adventures in the future!