A SEVEN-year old boy who has autism can sleep soundly once again, now that his service dog has returned home.
Majella McCarthy of Skibbereen had appealed for the public’s help in locating Quinlan – a three year old Golden Retriever – who went missing on Tuesday, August 16th last, after being allowed out on a free run at her parent’s farm in Caheragh.
‘A free run is a treat for them to burn off energy after the daily discipline of working so intensely,’ Majella said at her home at Mardyke Park on Monday, just hours after Quinlan was reunited with Ryan.
‘I was with him when he went on a run through the fields with Charlie, my mother’s dog, but when I blew his signal whistle, he failed to return.
‘Straight away we launched a search for him, but it wasn’t until he turned up at a neighbour’s house in Caheragh that we knew he was safe and well,’ said Majella.
‘We don’t know what happened,’ she added. ‘It is a mystery. We haven’t a clue where he was for the last six days. Quinlan is a highly trained dog, a canine companion, and we were worried sick that he would be lost forever.
‘We walked the fields and the neighbours went out looking too,’ said Majella, who then put the missing report up on Facebook and sent out an appeal on radio station C103.
‘It takes between two and three years – including monthly classes – to train a canine companion and Quinlan qualified in May. It can cost €10,000 to train a dog like him, which is a lot of money because My Canine Companion is a voluntary organisation and does not receive State aid.’
As a skilled service dog, Quinlan has helped the family but Ryan in particular by helping him gain independence, helping him to be safer on the streets, and as a loyal companion.
‘He calms Ryan down and stops him from becoming anxious and gives him a sense of security when he is out and about, particularly in situations where noise or lights are distressing for children with autism,’ explained Majella.
When they collected him, Quinlan was delighted to see them but that was nothing compared to the joy Ryan experienced. Majella, too, was relieved saying: ‘I hadn’t slept properly in days – it was like one of my children was missing.’
Quinlan was ‘a bit tired and skinny’ on his return. And last Monday – which was a particularly hot and sunny afternoon – he was happily resting in the back garden.
‘Ryan had been asking for him,’ said Majella, who told her son that Quinlan had to go back to school for a bit. She said she is relieved to have him home and thanked everyone for their help and support, but admitted: ‘We will have to keep a closer eye on him for a while.’
An overjoyed Majella said: ‘Ryan was so happy to see him. We all were.’
On September 1st next, Ryan will be going back to school, and now, thankfully, he can go back to his routine.
‘He’s happy with his companion,’ said Majella.