Girl's best friend sought for four-year-old Chloe
For most of us, buying a new puppy can be as simple as doing some research on the breed of puppy we would like, comparing prices, and ensuring the dog will fit easily into our lifestyle.
For Chloe Holland, it’s a whole different story.
The four-year-old who attends Goodstart Brighton Cochrane Street has Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare condition caused by issues with chromosome 15.
To help the family cope with Chloe’s condition, mum Kathlene Jones has decided to invest in a support dog to help her daughter navigate her way through life. The only obstacle is the $35,000 price tag.
“Dogs for Life will specifically select and train a dog for Chloe, backed up by a program developed by a psychologist and training for Chloe and her family,” Ms Jones said.
“It’s a big financial outlay but the benefits will be amazing. The dog will be able to help with movement and gross motor skills, reduce Chloe’s anxiety, improve her emotional control and reduce meltdowns.”
Prader-Willi Syndrome is a complex condition affecting almost all systems of the body and brain. Symptoms are low muscle mass and tone, food seeking behaviour with an insatiable appetite, impaired cognition and anxiety.
Chloe also has a high pain threshold, making it difficult to diagnose illness, and she gets tired easily.
“A service dog will be trained to deal with her specific issues,” Ms Jones said.
“The dogs do a lot of work with PTSD and epilepsy and will be able to help Chloe move and exercise. She only needs half the calories of other children because her metabolism is so slow. She needs to exercise because she is prone to obesity but she fatigues quickly due to low muscle, and the dog will help encourage her to move.
“It will also help her exercise her brain pathways and develop empathy and relationships with others.”
Prader-Willi Syndrome is a non-inherited genetic condition and occurs spontaneously in 1 to 10,000 to 1 in 30,000 people.
Goodstart Brighton Cochran Street centre director Emma Chaplin said she was keen to help the family raise the funds needed for Chloe’s support dog.
“Chloe is enrolled at a sessional kindergarten in the area but her mum wanted Chloe to have an extra day of socialising and she needed some respite for herself,” Ms Chaplin said.
“We’ve had to put a few different systems in place so that we can safely have Chloe here, and we have an extra educator on the days she comes in but we haven’t looked back since she started,” Ms Chaplin said.
“She is the most beautiful girl and we’re blessed to have her here so making sure the centre is safe for Chloe is a big priority for us. And a support dog would help with that.”
Ms Jones, who is the founder of the Prader-Willi Foundation, and also mum of a five-month-old, has turned to Go Fund Me for help raising the money to buy the support dog.
“We’re hoping Chloe will be able to go to school next year and the dog will help with that. It’s really important to ensure she’s socialising with other children in her age group because it helps with her movement, and language.”
The ideal dog for Chloe is a Lagotto, or an Italian working dog.
If you would to help Chloe’s family get a support dog, you can help them through their fundraising page.