The Laya Award

Joint Winner 2017 - Harry Parks

Dog that helped: Vader - Support School Dog

Place that dog worked: Dogs Helping Kids Head Quarters

Harry's mother says, 'Harry (12) only started working with Vader a few months ago, but they became instant friends. Harry loves working with Vader, and Vader responds well to Harry. It definitely helps that Harry chooses to bring Vader's favourite treats with him to the training sessions!

We welcomed our first dog to the family in December. At the time Harry, who is Autistic, was struggling with school and with severe anxiety. Getting our dog was the best thing ever, and Harry instantly started researching positive training methods, dog breeds, nutrition and equipment. It made me wonder whether a dog could help Harry at school, and I was really excited to come across DHK, and thrilled when Tracey agreed to work with Harry.

Harry is now out of school completely and the sessions with Tracey and Vader are the highlight of his week. Harry has learnt so much since starting with DHK, and his enthusiasm for dogs seems to keep growing. He practices what he learns with Vader at home with Maisie, our 7 month old Westipoo, who is doing really well with her training.

Harry finds reading people and emotional regulation difficult; yet with Vader and Maisie, he is always so calm and patient, and seems to understand exactly what they are feeling. He was instinctively using shaping when training new tasks with Maisie, even before he knew that it was a training method!

Watching Harry working with Vader gives me huge pleasure. Life is tough for Harry, and it is fantastic to see him so happy and to watch his confidence grow. I can't thank Tracey enough for this opportunity - the difference it is already making with Harry is huge! (And I am learning loads too!).

Thank you DHK'


Winner 2016 - Tashie Charman

Dog that helped: Brady - Certified Visiting School Dog

Place that dog worked: Barnstaple Library, North Devon - Brady helps children with their reading and teaches them about being kind to all dogs

Tashie (aged 15) says - 'Brady is an amazing superdog! He is kind, friendly, and a very good listener! Meeting Brady and Meg (Brady's owner) has changed my views on dogs completely. Just like Brady, Meg is also amazing, lovely and happy, even when Brady and I get the trick wrong! Before meeting Meg and Brady I was petrified of all dogs, and would cross the road or even scream if I saw one. But with the help of DHK and their Library Dogs (and owners) I now love dogs! Brady is the highlight of my week, and it was an honour to be in the DHK calendar, paper and even fundraisers with him. I also get anxious and the thought and time with Brady and Meg makes me very happy! Thank you'


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