Dog brings joy to suffering family

Dylan Jessop, 10, with his assistance dog Yebo. Dylan has a degenerative metabolic disorder.
Dylan Jessop, 10, with his assistance dog Yebo. Dylan has a degenerative metabolic disorder. Warren Lynam

AN UNCONCERNED "woof" and the alert brown eyes of golden retriever Yebo greeted my arrival at the Mountain Creek home of 10-year-old Dylan Jessop.

Dylan's mum Louise shares the story of Dylan and Yebo with me, as Yebo nudges my knees with a stuffing-depleted soft toy firmly clamped beneath his silky blond jowls.

Dylan is now in the quieter final phase of Sanfilippo Syndrome (MPS IIIA), a rare and degenerative genetic metabolic disease.

Yebo's involvement in the family's activities is a continuing source of joy and comfort, and a common bond between Dylan and his younger brothers, Ethan, 8, and Ayden, 4.

Yebo is a companion dog provided to Dylan three years ago by Assistance Dogs Australia, a not-for-profit organisation based in New South Wales which places animals across Australia.

Each animal is comprehensively matched to their recipient and represents an investment of $27,000 and two years of training.

Louise explains that as Dylan no longer speaks, Yebo acts as a communication link.

"When Dylan is having unwell periods, Yebo will not leave his side, and will come to get us if Dylan has a seizure," she said.

Yebo walks beside Dylan's wheelchair while out in the community and Louise says he "breaks down the barriers".

"He is very social with others in wheelchairs and seems to be in tune with others who need extra love and attention," she said.

Louise says Dylan loves his "clown dog".

Yebo is known to run flat out around the yard when off duty.

"He loves swimming in the Maroochydore River and at the beach, digging big holes in the sand, and snoozing," she said.

Louise recounts times past when Dylan enjoyed games of dropping things while Yebo patiently picked up and returned items to his mate.

"Ethan says he misses his brother who used to run around. Now, Ethan runs with Yebo for his brother," Louise said.

I left the family with their after-school plus Yebo activities as Louise struggled with words to wrap around her feelings to describe the happiness, comfort and completeness that Yebo has brought to the family. Words were not necessary.

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