Emily’s wish is for a dog of her own – but not just any dog.
The nine-year-old from Melton West has autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety. As part of her therapies, Emily is on a two year program run by Dogs for Life and works with Labrador Bella once a week.
Emily is in line for a new puppy when the next litter of service dogs comes along but, for now, she is bonding with Bella.
But the program costs $40,000 and mum Megan Olive has to shoulder the expense.
Ms Olive said that Bella would change the lives of her entire family.
“It’s going to be a big change once Emily gets a dog,” she said. “She’s always having meltdowns and has high anxiety but a service dog will help to calm her and stay relaxed.
“She also finds it hard to go to sleep, she’s up until 11pm most nights and the dogs are trained to help her with sleep issues as well.
“If there’s a calmer child in the house, we’re all a bit calmer.”
The family has managed to raise $10,000 toward the program fees through chocolate fundraisers, trivia nights and tin-rattling.
“There will come a time soon when another litter of puppies will be born and Emily will be introduced to one of them,” Ms Olive said.
“That puppy will help her in many ways. It will assist her to become less anxious and help her to communicate better in a more socially acceptable manner.
“It will also assist her in walking outside and … encourage more positive interaction with friends.”
The community is being asked to support the family through an online campaign on GoFundMe.
To donate: bit.ly/2oeSXcP