Girl with Down’s Syndrome, 8, forms beautiful friendship with Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever is helping an eight-year-old girl with Down’s Syndrome get dressed and deal with anxiety. Support dog Emma underwent specialist training so that she could carry out a range of tasks for Milli Gunn, from Upminster, Essex. She can help Milli get her coat on or hunt out for her medicated drinks if she loses them, as well as giving soothing ‘head rests’ when she gets out of breath or anxious.

The schoolgirl also has a serious heart condition and has already had open heart surgery twice, with the first operation taking place when she was just four months old.

Her parents Steve, 43, and Christina, 40, received Emma through the charity Dogs for Good after researching different forms of help for disabled children.

It is the first UK assistance dog organisation to give aid to children like Milli. Steve told The Mirror: ‘It’s like Emma turned a light on for Milli and has given her the confidence to shine as brightly in the wider world as she does at home.’ He added that since the dog’s arrival, his daughter has been more confident in chatting to people and introducing them to ‘my Emma’

Prior to getting Emma she would have been very quiet and not wanted to interact at all,’ he said. Milli took an instant liking to the loyal helper, telling her dad after their first meeting: ‘I liked that dog, Daddy. She didn’t bark. She’s fluffy and lovely.’ Emma has now been with the family for a year and has been named a finalist in the Friends for Life competition to be held at the next canine event, Crufts. The contest celebrates the unique relationship people have with their dogs and the support they can give in the face of adversity.


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