Felix, Chance and I met months ago, after their Mum Micky contacted me to organise a child and pet photography session. Chance is Felix's Smooth Collie, from the Dogs for Kids with Disabilities Organisation. Felix is six years old, a wonderful little boy with autism. He was full of giggles and jokes and Chance was there, ready for a cuddle when he started to feel unsure. It broke my heart to hear some of the stories of prejudice that Micky and her family have had to deal with, but it is clear that Chance is already doing wonders in calming Felix and by helping break down those social barriers in the community.
For those of you who don't know, DKD is a not-for-profit organisation that trains assistance and companion dogs for children with autism and other developmental disorders. I am always deeply humbled and inspired to see the positive effect that these dogs have on their children. It's a beautiful relationship and one that I am honoured to be given the opportunity to capture.
I met Felix and his awesome family in their Northcote home. Micky has had more than her fair share of life's difficulties, but to her credit her whole family is beautiful, friendly, sweet and so animal loving! This love-filled home is really a testament to the joys and endless benefits that pets bring to families and children.
After I met Felix's sisters, furry family and his Nana Helen, it was time for Felix, Micky, Chance and I to walk over to the nearby All Nations Park. It was a beautiful sunny Summer day as the four of us wandered through the park together. We found a sweet little private area where Felix could play happily with his lego whilst Chance watched over him with his alert but calm gaze.
Chance is so gentle with Felix, patiently standing still while Felix gleefully wraps his arms around Chance's neck. DKD Assistance dogs help build friendships and provide their children with a completely different level of comfort and companionship. Felix can confidently express all his emotions with Chance (although Micky is quick to make sure he doesn't get too enthusiastic as he happily grabs a handful of Chance's smooth fur).
The tethered leash of a DKD dog plays a huge role in helping the children. Walking with a hand wrapped around their dog's tether not only prevents the children from running away, it also gives them a wonderful sense of security, responsibility and confidence. Felix is so proud to walk with Chance by his side.
Micky, thank you so much for inviting me into your home and giving me such a beautiful insight into your life and your family. I am truly in awe of you and your endless well of love, care, patience and courage. Lesser men and women would crumble, but you are one of the strongest people I have ever met. It was my absolute joy to spend time with you, Felix and Chance.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart,