Since June I have been dreading speaking, or whispering, about the return to school. I have mentioned before, that our son, we think, has Aspergers. Look, he might have a very mild case of it, it might not even have it at all – but I am his mother, and I listen and watch him and I know he has it.
Five years ago, I watched some obscure programme at Christmas on BBC about a Mancunian family whose autistic son had never spoke. It showed how dramatically their life changed when a labrador became their son’s pet.
So, as I dreaded the return to school, and as my son asked for a dog, I increased the odds from 20% sure we want one, to last week being 95% sure we want a dog. I thought of the extra work and the commitment for the next 10 years – but I kept thinking – if this dog makes Charlie go back to school easier, then it’s worth at least €1000.
So ‘Rex’ arrived, he is 13 week old mix between Mr Russell and Monsieur Frisé. He is, by now, an acknowledged miracle worker. I have seen Charlie, who is older than his years, worry about some minute detail that happened in school, talk about how someone looked at him in the yard, worry by what the teacher did not say. I saw him laugh more the day we got the dog, than in any other day of his life.
Rex did ‘The Smoulder’, he rolled on to his back for us to scratch his back, he rested his head on his front two paw’s. We were immediately won over. Now, Just looking at him walk, makes us laugh. On the way from collecting him, he crept into the back window area of the car, and lay down – not worried by the motorway traffic, the juggernauts, or our car radio speakers. He just relaxed and was himself.
On the first morning back to school, we picked up Rex and deposited him on Charlies bed . He laughed, and watched as Rex performed his ‘morning dog’ rolling, playing routine. We went to school, Charlie got out of the car, went into the classroom with ease and kissed me goodbye.
That may not seem like a big deal – but to me its like winning the lottery, well maybe not the national lottery, more like the local GAA lottery – for a few grand – but it was a lottery win indeed!!
I can’t believe the change in our family – instead of focusing on what is wrong, we are laughing at what Rex does right.
I asked Charlie tonight, what his favourite ‘Rex’ moment was so far, he said when Rex dived across the bed at Robert and inadvertently stuck his doggy tongue up Robert’s nose! As we fell about, trying not to pee ourselves – I said to Robert – better clean your nostrils or all day long, you will smell like a dog!