Three-year-old Tupper Dunlop of Winnipeg, Canada, wasn’t doing so well. The slightest noise could upset him. He didn’t react when people called his name. And those were just the little things.
When he was two, he was diagnosed with autism. Every night he had nightmares, sleeping only three to six hours. Even while sleeping he would often cry and flail around. He could usually only manage to stay asleep for 45 minutes at a time. Nancy Dunlop and her husband were desperate.
“As parents, having a child who didn’t sleep or slept very minimally, it was physically and emotionally draining. Having a child cry, scream or appear to be in some form of discomfort, pain or stress, who can’t tell you what is wrong is very difficult,” Nancy explained. “You feel very helpless, not knowing what to do to help your child.”
But then they had an idea that might just make life better for Tupper, and indeed the whole family.
Since Tupper loved animals and was always happy to play with them, the Dunlops made a decision to get a service dog. And that’s how a white Lab named Lego became their son’s best friend.
It was almost a miracle how much Tupper’s condition improved.
He started sleeping eight to ten hours a night! Whenever he had a nightmare, Lego would cuddle him and Tupper would immediately calm down. During the day the service dog’s presence was also a treasure. Tupper can concentrate better and has also started to speak. Now he even goes to preschool with Lego.
When the little boy gets upset, Lego will bring him a toy or gently brush against him to distract him. That way Tupper doesn’t get stuck in a downward spiral of frustration and fear. Daily life is no longer a huge series of obstacles for the Dunlops. Tupper can’t judge danger well yet and sometimes he’ll fall in the middle of a crowded shopping center or a busy street. But now, the moment he starts to take off in the wrong direction, Lego pulls him back and decreases the chance of an accident.
Those are just a few examples of the countless ways Lego makes his little friend’s life worth living. That’s a service dog living up to his title — and so much more!