Sally, whose grandfather was a stud to the Queen’s corgis, has helped change 14-year-old Nick Gilling’s life.
She has helped Nick overcome his fear of going to school, has helped cure him of his agoraphobia and is even clever enough to play cards with him to help him interact.
His parents say four-and-a-half year-old Sally, who lives with Nick, mum Tessa, 45, dad Tim, 49, and sister Jenny, 17, has changed their lives for the better.
Mum Tessa, from Leeds, an Ambassador for the National Autistic Society, said: “Nick was very reluctant to go outside. If I ever tried to get him to go anywhere, it would take hours to get him into the car and he never wanted to go out.
“But once we got Sally, he wanted to go out because it was for Sally.
Nick, whose fear of leaving the house and especially attending school meant he was taught by the home/hospital education service for about two years, only went back to school, a special unit at Allerton High School, last April – but would not wear his uniform.
Tessa had heard from the Dogs for the Disabled charity that Nick may respond through his dog.
One morning, she even got Sally dressed up in Nick’s school uniform.
He thought it was funny and agreed to wear his uniform that day.
Tessa first heard about dogs helping autistic children when she read an advert for Parents Autism Workshops and Support (PAWS) – a branch of Dogs for the Disabled.
She then went on a PAWS training course where she trained Sally to help Nick.
Sally was a show dog and won her category at Crufts dog show in 2008 as a puppy.
“She’s had a really calming effect on the whole family,” Tessa added.