Hope for Harvey to become a support dog for Alyssa

12-01-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. POLMONT. 13 week old puppy labrador, Harvey and 3-year-old Alyssa Stirling who has autism. Family raising money so Harvey can be trained as an autism support dog.
12-01-2016. Picture Michael Gillen. POLMONT. 13 week old puppy labrador, Harvey and 3-year-old Alyssa Stirling who has autism. Family raising money so Harvey can be trained as an autism support dog.

A family in Polmont is trying to raise thousands of pounds so their young pup can become an autism support dog for their three-year-old daughter.

Alyssa Stirling is autistic and her family wanted her to have the support of a canine helper as early as possible.

After the family’s first choice charity fell through, they discovered newly formed Appaws For Autism.

Elise, Alyssa’s mum, explained the difference between this charity and others on offer.

She said: “Appaws For Autism allows families to source their own puppies and lets them stay with the child while they go through training.

“Others train the pups, at great cost, and then hand over the qualified support dog.”

In December Alyssa met her dog, Harvey, a 13-week-old Labrador, and three weeks on the pair have developed a loving bond.

Elise said: “Having Harvey stay will Alyssa is so beneficial. She can get used to him and be comfortable around him. Alyssa is head over heels for Harvey.”

The pup must go through intense training before he can become a qualified autism support dog.

Working with The Kennel Club, Harvey must pass bronze, silver and gold awards, learning basic commands.

He will then be assessed to see if he is suitable for autism support training. If accepted Harvey will begin a course to become a fully qualified support dog.

This is not cheap, so the family has been working hard and raising cash to cover the cost. Elise said: “We have a target of £6000 and already have £1200.

“We have plans to do a ladies night among other things. We always want our fundraising to be something people can enjoy.”

If Harvey passes he will always be there for Alyssa. If she ever gets stressed or is in danger, Harvey will be trained to protect her. For more information visit the Dog4Alyssa Facebook page.