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Cork Independent


Time to raise the woof!

Friday, 28th August, 2020 1:26pm

Paws to the floor, it’s time to get walking! 
My Canine Companion is hosting a virtual tour of Ireland that has already seen participants walk thousands of miles to raise funds for the charity. Initially, the charity was hoping a collective walk of 2,798km would be completed, but the virtual walk has smashed that goal, with 12,500km completed to date. The virtual coast of Ireland walk is being completed apart, while raising funds for the Cork charity which provides service/assistance dogs to children and young adults with autism.
Co- founded in 2011 by Cork woman Cliona O'Rourke, Cliona was the first person in Europe to train a dog specifically for the needs of children with autism.  My Canine Companion (My CC) provides over 60 per cent of qualified assistance dogs annually and the cost of providing a service dog is €10,000. MyCC does not receive any government funding. 
My CC is calling on the public to register for this event, and to pledge a distance (anything from 5-500km over 30 days). To register visit the website,

Nicole Duggan from Glanmire, is mother to Riley, who works with MyCC service dog Willow. They have already completed their virtual walk, with Riley completing 100km in under 30 days.
“When My CC matched my son Riley with a 12 week old puppy, Willow, I don't think we could have ever imagined the bond that could have blossomed. But through all of her training in the puppy programme, on her way to qualifying in 2018, Willow was right by his side, licking his hands to keep him calm, and cuddling him when he was sad. The friendship that grew was amazing to watch.
Before Riley was attached to Willow, he had to be in a buggy at all times, when we were out and about, for his own safety. He is a huge flight risk and sees no danger, so he will run into roads, and in front of cars.
In January 2019, Riley and Willow were attached, and that is the day my little boy's life changed. He ditched the buggy, and we have not looked back since. He has a whole new sense of independence, and now he walks proudly next to Willow, attached by a belt, and holds her handle while we are out and about. She gives him confidence, keeps him safe and most of all she is his best friend.
We will be forever grateful to My Canine Companion for our girl, and for everything she does on a daily basis, and we will always fundraise for the charity and support them, so that other children can get the gift that Riley has gotten.
Not only has the charity made a difference to my little boy’s life, it has given me, as a parent, a whole new level of support, and people who understand the world of autism, something which can be quite lonely. My Canine Companion is truly a family, and one that Riley and I are so proud to be part of.”

Elaine Healy from Mallow, is mother to Logan who works with My Canine Companion service dog Milo.
“Our son Logan was diagnosed with autism at age two and an intellectual disability at age four. Life for Logan was extremely tough. 
He was a very frustrated and sad little boy who would lash out, as he couldn't explain what he wanted. He doesn't speak and would see no danger in running onto a road. He struggled to cope in busy situations with too much noise and people and would he would scream and cry.
We had stopped leaving the house, and when we had to venture out as a family, it usually ended in tears and one or all of us leaving.
We were at the lowest point and then we met our My Canine Companion service dog, Milo. 
When the family, and particularly Logan, met Milo it was love at first sight. Within weeks Logan was walking with Milo, attached to him and holding his lead and we've never looked back.
We can go anywhere now and life has never been the same. He found a friend as well as an anchor. 
Our little boy is happy and safe and My Canine Companion opened up a world we never thought he'd see. 
It was the best present our family could have received.”

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