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Kayleigh & Luna

Kayleigh is autistic and has mental health problems. Without Luna, Kayleigh is completely unable to go into public places such as shops without having panic attacks and immediately have to leave. As a young person entering adulthood this has a huge impact on her opportunities and independence.

Kayleigh's Mum said: “Kayleigh had spent 2 years with long hospital admissions due to serious mental health conditions. It was during these admissions that it was pointed out to us that they thought that she might have autism and learning difficulties, which on reflection explains a lot of the difficulties that Kayleigh has always faced.

Kayleigh really struggled to engage in any of the usual talking therapies, but I noticed that she would talk about and look forward to the dogs visiting the hospital for weekly animal therapy sessions, so I wondered if having a dog of her own would help. Luna came into our lives on the 20th July 2019 and was the tiniest puppy that I had ever seen. Kayleigh had an immediate bond with Luna and said that she didn’t ever want to leave her side. Kayleigh’s severe anxiety means that she finds it difficult to leave the house to go to public places and shops and engage with other people.

Since having Luna Kayleigh kept saying “I might go out with you if Luna can come,” but I knew that Luna wouldn’t be allowed in the non pet friendly public places. I explored the possibility of Luna being trained to be her assistance dog, though I didn’t know if such a small dog or a breed like a Pomeranian could be trained like that. Something I said must have prompted our lovely vet Laura to mention Pawsitive Squad to us during Luna’s routine vaccination, so I went home and looked it up and gave Heather a ring. I explained our situation and she said she could help!

We have been training Luna with Pawsitive Squad since January 2020 and have learnt loads of amazing things. We are really enjoying the journey and feel so proud of Luna when she learns new things that can help Kayleigh. Luna is already making a huge difference to Kayleigh’s life, recently she has been confident enough to come out with me as she is able to focus on Luna, which in itself is a massive distraction, and have the support of Luna doing DPT across her lap or sit under her legs if she becomes upset or overwhelmed. We are also training Luna at home to go to bed with Kayleigh at night as this gives Kayleigh comfort and helps with sleep, which is something she struggles with, and also to wake Kayleigh up in the morning by lying on her and gently licking her face.

Kayleigh has also now been able to stay out of hospital for a year and I truly believe that this is because of Luna! She might be a tiny little ball of fluff, but with Heather’s help she is going to make a huge difference to Kayleigh’s future helping her gain confidence, independence and change her life.

Kayleigh says that Luna is her motivation and best friend in the whole world, and that helping with the training has given her something to focus on. Kayleigh also said that because Luna is allowed to come out with us it makes her feel safer and more confident to be able to go out with me to places she would struggle to go.”

Luna, her petit pup is training to make being in public less stressful & anxiety inducing for Kayleigh. Luna is now trained to interrupt Kay when she shows certain behaviours which indicate Kay’s anxiety Is growing by nudging her leg repeatedly with her nose. This helps Kay to realise that she is starting to become increasingly anxious so that she can apply coping strategies to help calm down. Kay’s autism can mean that she doesn’t realise when her anxiety is starting to climb, meaning that she can go from appearing ‘usual anxious’ to acutely distressed and panicked very quickly.

We are currently focusing on training Luna to lead Kayleigh back through a building to the exit to help Kay get out of a building If she becomes over anxious which can make her disorientated and struggle to remember which direction she came from which makes her anxiety even higher.

Luna plays a huge role in Kayleigh's life and we hope that as she continues through her assistance dog training journey she will continue to make even more impact. Last month, Kay was able to attend a training session in public which is something she never would have been able to do without Luna. Kay was able to join in as she missed Luna so much when her mum brought Luna to the last training session without Kay, so this time Kayleigh decided that she’d rather come along and face her anxiety and be with Luna than stay home without her. This was a huge move for Kayleigh and all thanks to Luna!

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