Loveable ‘miracle dog’ gives new lease of life to autistic Rugby boy - The Rugby Observer

Loveable ‘miracle dog’ gives new lease of life to autistic Rugby boy

Rugby Editorial 2nd Jan, 2024   0

A LOVEABLE ‘miracle dog’ has given a new lease of life to an eight-year-old Rugby boy who has autism.

Noah Shone’s brighter outlook is all thanks to Peggy, a two-year-old Labrador trained and provided by the Support Dogs charity.

Before Peggy bounded into his life, getting Noah to leave the house was impossible, according to mum Kay Shone.

But thanks to Peggy, who Noah describes as his ‘miracle dog’, he knows no limits – allowing the family to enjoy a brighter festive season than they had previously.

Kay, 44, said: “Christmas time has a lot of social pressures which Noah struggles with, but having Peggy gave us the confidence to have a lower demand Christmas this year.

“We didn’t have a traditional sit down meal with the pressure that brings. We had a quiet day where Noah was free to evade all the social ‘norms’. And Peggy was spoilt rotten with presents from everyone!”

With his new-found confidence, Noah – with Peggy in tow – and his family went ice skating over the festive season.

Noah and Peggy with Noah’s parents Kay and Robert at their Support Dogs’ graduation ceremony.

Admin manager Kay said: “Noah fell over, which could have caused a massive meltdown, but he just laughed and carried on – the chances of that happening before Peggy were minuscule!

“Noah also managed to attend the school Christmas fair and a birthday party on the same day, something which would have been too much for him before Peggy.

“Peggy went to the party and had lots of cuddles from Noah and the other children – it’s amazing how much her influence calmed the children.”

Peggy has been with Noah and his family since May – and Noah, Peggy and Kay graduated as an official partnership in October, following extensive training.

Noah’s autism wasn’t picked up until he was five.

“We really noticed it during lockdown when we were trying to home school,” recalls Kay.

“He’s very good at masking – at school he was the perfect child, but when he got home, we had the ‘explosions’. During lockdown we noticed it more as he was with us all the time.

“He got very germ-phobic over lockdown, so that didn’t help his nerves.”

In particular, Noah didn’t like being given instructions – known as Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) – and getting him to leave the house was impossible.

But now, thanks to Peggy, Noah is happy to get out and about.

“She’s just completely changed our lives,” said Kay.

“Previously, Noah would stay in and didn’t want to go anywhere at weekends.

“Now we are off out doing all sorts of things he had never tried before – we have been to ski slopes, I’ve sat and watched Noah toboggan and we have been on holiday twice.

“Getting him out of the house was a big stumbling block, whereas now with Peggy, he’s quite happy to try things. Having his best friend next to him gives him that bit of confidence.

“If anything does go wrong, he can have a cuddle with her. He felt people were looking at him and was conscious of social situations. But now, he can focus on Peggy and he’s not concerned about what’s going on around him.”

Kay and her husband Robert, a 39-year-old computer programmer, realised the pressure of school increased Noah’s anxiety, and soon after, they got an autistic diagnosis via private healthcare.

Kay said she ‘spent forever’ on Google looking for anything that could help Noah, when up popped Support Dogs.

“Noah comes back from school and needs to decompress, and I’d read all these things about how good dogs could be at home, and we knew he liked dogs,” said Kay.

Describing the pride of graduating, Kay said: “It was good to lose the ‘L’ badge. Noah is so proud of her.”

“Support Dogs are just amazing.

“I couldn’t put into words how much they have changed our lives – it’s just fantastic, and not just Noah’s life, but the whole family.

“When Noah’s asleep, we’ve still got Peggy – she’s lovely to sit with and calm down and chill out with.

“If anyone can support the charity, they really should – they’re miracle workers.”

Visit to find out more about Support Dogs’ autism assistance programme.


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