Zach & Vago

I cried with joy the first time I saw Zach walking with an Assistance Dog

At the age of seven, Zach Darcy was very energetic, and very fast. His most common response to sensory overload was to run. Even out on a busy street.

Zach’s parents, Collette and Mark, said it was their greatest fear.

It had reached the point where he was in serious danger every single time the family went outdoors.

To make matters worse, it would always happen with no warning, because Zach is non-verbal. He has never spoken, which means he’s unable to tell his parents of the turmoil building up inside him.

Fortunately, today – thanks to our amazing supporters – Zach has Vago in his life. A really wonderful Assistance Dog who has had a hugely calming effect on him. He’s like a big gorgeous furry focal-point for Zach to touch and hug whenever the world feels like it’s crushing in on him.

Zach and Vago have formed a strong friendship.

Assistance Dog Vago is working in exactly the way Colette and Mark had hoped he would.

He’s keeping their little boy safe every time they go out. You see, if Zach does try to bolt, Vago is trained to stand his ground. He’ll stand still, plant his feet, and won’t budge.

Because of this, Colette and Mark know he’s not in danger anymore. After years of living in fear for their son’s safety, they suddenly had a child who would walk calmly and happily alongside his heroic Assistance Dog.

Even simple things such as going to the shop were difficult for the family before Vago came along.

First steps with Assistance Dog Vago

One of their first training walks was in Cork City. Collette was looking at her little boy walking along with his dog, holding the reins, with a big smile on his face like he was thrilled with life. There were tears running down her cheeks. When she looked at her husband Mark, there were tears rolling down his face too.

“It was absolutely amazing.”, his mother Collette told us. “He was walking so independently, doing something so far out of his comfort zone, and not trying to bolt! We knew right there in that moment that this was going to work, and that it was going to be exactly what Zach needed. What all of us needed.”

“There are no words to describe what Vago has done for us as a family. You just couldn’t put a price on it.”

The relief must have been huge for Colette and Mark. Suddenly they knew that with an Assistance Dog by his side, Zach would finally be safe.

Christmas with Assistance Dog Vago

There have been so many other benefits that Vago has brought to the Darcy family too. For starters, they were able to begin enjoying ordinary family life together for the first time since Zach’s symptoms began.

Assistance Dog Vago is very protective of young Zach.

The year before the Darcy family got Vago, they tried to see Santa. From the moment they walked in the door, it was a very stressful experience. Zach just didn’t want to be there. But now with Vago, visiting Santa is actually a fantastic experience for the family because Zach doesn’t run off.

The first time they went with Vago, little Zach was so calm. He went up and gave Santa a big high five!

Visits to Santa were made possible again thanks to Vago.

That would never have happened without Vago.

For Colette in particular, this was a huge transformation, because the truth is she had become incredibly isolated.

“Our life became dominated by the things we couldn’t do. You can’t manage a baby, a toddler, and a child with autism who will run away from you the first chance he gets, without putting one or all of them at risk. It became impossible to leave the house whenever Mark was out. It was just too dangerous.”

With Vago looking after Zach, Colette can take the children out whenever she wants. The list of things they could never do as a family, has become a list of things they can do.

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