Case study: Orla and Elanor
Orla and Erin’s Mum, Stacy, told us how Elanor the buddy dog had changed their lives: “The buddy dog service has completely transformed not only my daughter's life, but our entire family's life too.
"Orla has a condition called Achromatopsia which causes her to have photophobia (sensitivity to light) and Nystagmus (constant involuntary eyeball wobble in both eyes). Orla has poor depth perception and when she is tired, stressed, or frightened her eyeballs wobble more. As Orla was going to new places, especially busy places, she would become frightened, which led to an increase in the eyeball wobble which made her more frightened. Orla lacked confidence and myself and my husband became worried about how to increase her confidence enough to overcome her fears. Orla's older sister, Erin, has the same eye condition but not as severe and she is so confident and brave.
"We found as a family we stopped going on days out and invited friends to come to our house instead as it was easier for Orla.
"At the end of the school summer holidays we discovered buddy dogs on the Guide Dogs website and reading the case studies we thought it may be a good idea, so contacted our local mobility team.
"Then we got our buddy dog, Elanor. It had been decided that a buddy dog was suitable for Orla. I had hoped that it would help her a bit, but Elanor has completely changed my little girl. We have done more in the few months we have had her than we did in the whole of last year. My frightened little girl has nearly vanished and I now have a bubbly happy little girl who tells everyone about Elanor. I asked her one day if she ok as school was so busy with parents and she smiled at me and said of course as she has her "bestest friend in the whole wide world next to her". Elanor walks Orla to the classroom door in the morning and at the end of the day Orla runs straight out of the classroom door to give Elanor a hug.
"Elanor has also helped my eldest daughter and she has a furry friend to cuddle every night and look after. Erin cares for Elanor and comes with me on lots of walks, even the night time ones which she used to struggle with because of her vision. Our whole family is so much happier now we have Elanor. Even our 18-month-old goes to Elanor for cuddles. I actually would go as far as to say that Elanor has completed our family and made our life so much better.”