There is no feeling like that of the after school bell ringing to mark the freedom from another school day, but for a young Langley boy the school day comes a little easier now that he has his two-year-old puppy for a desk-mate.
“She’s very chill. When I’m stressed I hug her until I calm down,” said Alex Delamonte, while the Grade 4 student welcomed hugs from his four-legged friend, Meggy.
Meggy is an autism support dog, the first welcomed by the Langley School District.
“This is one of the things she’s trained to do, we call it hugs. So she’ll climb up on his lap, or she’ll lie on top of him and she kisses him,” explained Carla Delamonte, Alex’s mom.
“Ours is extra licky,” said Alex. “Let’s just say we got the lickiest of the litter.”
The pup has been accompanying Alex to school at Lynn Fripps Elementary full time since classes resumed after winter break.
“If the school is not on board it can’t happen, so the school is integral,” said Carla.
“Kim [the school principal] has just been so open and welcoming and accommodating. If Kim weren’t on board I don’t know how this would work.”
The family completed an application process with the Lions Foundation of Canada Guide Dogs before they learned whether Meggy would be coming home with them in August.
“We heard about [the program] from other people in our autism community, and we’re the kind of parents where if there is anything that can possibly help our son, we explore it.” said Carla.
Once the foundation accepted the family’s application Carla was invited to Oakville, ON to complete 10 days of training.
“If you pass all the tests there you get to bring the dog home with you,” Carla said.
But before Alex could bring Meggy to school with him an assembly was held to inform the staff and students, said Kim Anderson, the school principal.
“Our whole school was trained with Meggy, not actually how to handle her, but to be aware of her, how not to distract her and how to have her part of our community,” she explained.
In just a few short months Meggy has already change Alex’s life.
“I think he’s a happier boy… generally happier, [he has] a better quality of life, [he’s] calmer [and] more resilient,” she said.