Sara Roberts, from Spital Hill, is a full-time carer for Cordellia, 11, Sienna, nine, and three-year-old Jareth who all have various health conditions and complex needs.
Cordellia has been diagnosed with autism and Lamb Shaffer syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder which causes her to suffer breathing problems and scoliosis, otherwise known as curvature of the spine.
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Meanwhile Sienna has multiple and complex needs, has undergone a tracheotomy, and suffers between 20 and 40 epileptic seizures a day – with the youngest sibling Jareth, three, also receiving a diagnosis of autism as well as suffering breathing and gastrointestinal problems.
Sara, 42, says she previously enquired about a therapy dog to “bring joy, ease pain and help anxiety” for her children but, as all have differing health conditions, the usual routes are all blocked.
Since discovering Ravenkeeper Gundogs, a Rotherham-based organisation and training facility which provides and trains pet dogs, gun dogs, protection dogs, and assistance dogs, Sara has started fundraising for one.
The single mother, who also has an older son, said: “The children, like many, have had a rough year but without their normal support it has been extremely tough.
“Cordellia has chest physio and medication daily. She sees a psychologist at Ryegate who tries to help her and it was her who suggested a therapy dog. Three years ago Cordellia actually lost her dog, Kenny, to a brain tumour – he was a family pet but he was a very good natured dog.
“She went down hill mentally from then, Sienna did as well but Jareth was too young. He used to help them stay calm and took on that working dog role naturally, when she was in pain he used to lay on her knee for hours.”
Sara says a therapy dog would not only provide the children with practical and emotional support, it would help support physiotherapy, keep them mobile, relax them when they are stressed and bring a smile back to their faces.
The overall cost is £6,000 which would cover the cost of a golden labrador from Ravenkeeper Gundogs as well as the training needed to allow it to accompany the children out and about.
If they are successful, the dog will be ready early next year, but Sara hopes she can surprise the children with the great news just in time for Christmas.
So far they have raised £140 since launching a Crowdfunder online and will be holding an virtual auction to bring in more funds.
Sara added: “Getting a therapy dog would change their lives. Like I say we’ve seen a massive decline in Cordellia and Sienna’s mental health since we lost Kenny.
“It would mean, for Cordellia, that she had the confidence to go out again and she has somebody by her side – the world has changed and she has been locked up for so long, even going to the car has become distressing so it would help keep her calm.
“For Sienna it would encourage her to walk and do physiotherapy and for Jareth, again, help keep him calm.”
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