Oren & Cookie

What life was like before Cookie

Like any family with a child with special needs, life was challenging. Oren, who was 5 before we entered the IGDB Assistance Dog programme, was a difficult child behavior-wise. He would bolt into traffic, he would scream during shopping trips, he would slap us and refuse to listen to anything we said to him. 

Oren also has a visual impairment as well as autism and an intellectual disability.  

Keeping him safe was our number one high priority.

We endured a lot of judgemental looks from other parents as we had a times to keep Oren in a push pram. We stood out because Oren was quite tall for a 5 year old. 

And as the saying goes "not all disabilities are visible", ergo the judgemental looks. 

Life with Cookie 

Its well-documented that children with special needs grow an attachment with their Assistance Dogs. Oren didn't. 

Due to his visual impairment and not having any peripheral vision, Oren (at home) was quite wary of Cookie as she was something he couldn't control, so he kept her at arm's length. 

This being said, when we go out, Oren is more than comfortable standing by the car and reaching for Cookie and the handle to go walking. 

When we first went shopping with  Oren, he walked into Tesco, reached for a bottle of ketchup and looked at me (unsure if he was allowed) as he always stayed in his buggy.

Suddenly, he was able to walk around and touch and feel things... he loved his independence. 

As time has gone on, Oren has listened to every command that has been given to Cookie, and he has learned them he is saying them to Cookie. 

He has now outgrown her. He has become an amazing, independent little man who is more controlled and loves what Cookie has taught him. 

Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind has also shown my older son Ryley what charities are all about. During the lockdown, unable to help out on Guide Dog Day, Ryley ran a live Facebook event called "Chop The Mop" and shaved all of his hair off. He raised €1,300!

What Now for Cookie

After 6 years of having Cookie in our lives, the time has come to say goodbye. 

We, as a family, have decided that at 8 years old, Cookie deserves the rest of her years to be fun. 

Over the years, sad to say, it's not just Oren who has needed Cookie. Our family, including myself, have all needed her.

Our household has seen diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome, chronic anxiety, and mental health conditions; Cookie has been there for all of us. Pawing our knee, tipping her nose under our elbow and whimpering to let us know she is there to help us through the tough moments. 

Now, she deserves to have someone show her the love she has shown us, and who better than the person who started her journey, Becky?!!!!! Becky Walton is Cookie's Puppy Raiser.  

After I left the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind Training Centre with Cookie, the first thing I did was make contact with Becky. Over the last 8 years we have been in full contact, living only 35 minutes apart, we have met up many times for play dates and Becky has taken Cookie for holidays. 

We promised Becky that since Cookie started her Assistance Dog life with her then Cookie should spend her retirement with her too. 

Becky loves Cookie so much and with Cookie being 8 years old they both have lots of time for fun together. "Cookie was a wonderful puppy and it was a pleasure to look after her for a few days here and there over the years. I'm so glad she is coming back to retire with me." 

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