On the 24th April 2017, we received a wonderful new addition to our family, compliments of the SA Guide Dogs Association.
Let me introduce you all to Zeke:
A yellow, male labrador, 18 months old at the time, that walked in through our front door and straight into our hearts.
I'm sure many of you have seen a story or two about how a non-verbal autistic child was given a dog and it dramatically changed their lives. Their child suddenly started talking, hugging their dog, never leaving their side.
The problem with these stories, as wonderful as they are, is that it doesn't happen often. The reality of it is, like any relationship, it takes time to bond and form trust.
When Zeke arrived, Gabriel was very excited. He flapped his arms so much (stimming) I thought he was going to levitate! He shrieked and smiled so we knew he was excited. Now, bear in mind, Gabriel is VERY tactile resistant. There are alot of textures he cringes at touching, feeling or even eating. Water is the biggest foe. If he messes even a drop of water on his clothing, it has to come off immediately. When it is time to wash hands, Gabriel hovers his hands in the basin, anywhere but by the water. Although, he does love his baths and adores swimming.
And so, Gabriel discovered Zeke's wet nose. Oh, and his big licks. On the face, on the legs, arms, anywhere Zeke can lick, he will. In the beginning, when Zeke would touch his wet, goofy nose on Gabriel's leg, he would bolt forward, like he had just been shocked! Now, thankfully, he just moves slightly and mumbles at Zeke.
But we have seen a difference. Gabriel loves touching Zeke's fur. He will often walk past him, stroking his back, and sliding his tail, ever so gently, through his hands. And Zeke is AMAZING with Gabriel. He is exceptionally patient with him and has the most gentle soul I have ever encountered. Sometimes when Zeke runs around the garden like he has just been inflicted with Mad Cow's Disease, Gabriel giggles like a teenage girl meeting Justin Bieber for the first time.
Zeke, like most labs, loves to chew. May I present Exhibit A:
And his tail is like a propeller on speed. There is an adorable sticker that sums it up perfectly:
Gabriel shows us, in very unique ways, that he adores Zeke. One morning, Zeke was blocking our bedroom doorway, and G-Dad was running late for work. He raised his voice to Zeke and the next minute, Gabriel ran out of his bedroom and promptly smacked G-Dad.
We have no doubt that Zeke is making a huge difference in Gabriel's life, but most of all, he is a companion for our son. Plus, we all love him to death.
And we can never, ever imagine our lives without him!