You might remember we mentioned over the past few weeks the difficulties facing the Assistance Dog Programme with no statutory funding from the Government going forward next year. Well, yesterday our Minister for Education, Batt O'Keeffe visited the Training Centre in Cork and announced a grant of €150,000 towards the training of Assistance Dogs next year!
Okay, the programme does cost €1.5 million to run but every little helps (and that was rather a lot - well, enough to provide 3 or 4 more dogs next year) so we are happy!
Here is little piece from the Irish Examiner newspaper yesterday ...
The programme provided its 100th dog to the family of an autistic child in Roscommon recently, but about 100 families are on waiting lists for the service, which matches dogs with children usually aged between four and 10. The results have been hugely positive, with parents reporting that the dogs help improve their children’s socialisation and interaction, increases independence and reduces stress for children and their families in public places.
However, the training and aftercare programme for the dogs and the families means the cost is high, while the organisation is finding fundraising more difficult during the recession like other charitable groups.
Mr O’Keeffe acknowledged the transformation of families’ lives by the dogs and the work of the IGDB teams. "The assistance dog brings about significant behavioural changes and improved manageability in autistic children who develop a close personal bond with the animal. I hope this funding will go some way towards developing the programme and training more dogs," he said.
Several people had asked what had I put on my wish list to Santa - well, all I had asked for was - a continuation of the Assistance Dog Programme ....I have everything I could want here with my not-so-little man, and with a sensitive stomach I don't even like treats! Well, apart from the occasional leg of lamb!
So, all my Christmas dreams have come true! Thank you to everyone who supported us over the past few months and emailed our Government Ministers for us! Obviously, the message got through and the man in red suit - well, okay, a Government Minister came through for us!
We want to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas and best wishes for 2010!
We are taking a break for a week but hope to be back soon with lots of news about the NSLM's Christmas and all the fun we got up too! Murray was back with the doctor again yesterday but we're hoping this course of antibotics will see him right! Thank you for all your good wishes - he's trying hard to be better for Santa Claus!