PUPPY LOVE: Little sister Paige, 4, Connor, 9, and Hayley Waldron, 6, can't wait to meet their Smart Pup Dougal.
PUPPY LOVE: Little sister Paige, 4, Connor, 9, and Hayley Waldron, 6, can't wait to meet their Smart Pup Dougal. Contributed

Smart Pup Dougal arrives in Emerald in 30 sleeps

NINE-year-old Connor Waldron can't wait to meet labradoodle Smart Pup, Dougal, in early March.

"I imagine him running at me and landing on top of me with hair flying and a big licky tongue coming for my face,” Connor said.

Smart Pups Assistance Dogs specialises in providing task specific trained assistance dogs to work with children with special needs, including autism.

Local mum of three Phoebe Waldron said her kids, Connor and Hayley, who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, finished fundraising for Dougal in May 2016.

"We have been waiting for our dog to be trained, allocated and placed since then,” she said.

"It has been a very long wait with a few delays on placement, but everything is locked in for the week of the fifth of March.”

She said, as cute as Dougal is, strict instructions must be followed when he is working with his vest on.

"He is unable to be patted or distracted by the general public so he is not to be approached,” she said.

"Unfortunately we will have to stop individuals from touching or talking to him if he is working.

"We are looking at having a meet and greet afternoon, or morning, for those in the community who supported us to come and meet him and say hello.

"We appreciate how exciting it is for our supporters for him to finally be here.”

The whole Waldron family is excited and can't wait for March.

"An autism assistance dog is not for everyone,” Mrs Waldron said. "There are strict commitments that must be made and there is an approval process that all families who apply have to go through.

"We decided he was right for us as we are already an animal loving family and we don't have any local family support in town.

"We were very pleased when we were approved to become a Smart Pup family, but I don't think the kids fully comprehend how much of a place and influence he is going to have in their everyday life.”

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