A mum desperate to scrape together cash to train a special assistance dog said it would change the life of her severely disabled two-year-old.
Born two months premature, Mirryn Cunningham was rushed to the Special Baby Care Unit and diagnosed with chromosome 17-12b disorder.
So rare is the genetic condition, Mirryn is thought to be the only child in the world with it.
This diagnosis, coupled with delayed myelination, which means her nervous system doesn’t work properly, causing her global delayed development, means she struggles to communicate, eat, walk and sit unaided.
And until specialist doctors can help mum Vicky, from Uphall, understand how best to treat Mirryn, she is doing everything in her power to make life better for her daughter, including employing the support of a specially trained furry friend.
“I applied to The Waggy Dog Project thinking it would be brilliant to give her a friend for life who is with her 24/7, who can help Mirryn communicate, build a bond and help her interact.”
But Vicky hadn’t appreciated the soaring costs of extra care for children with additional needs, particularly the price of training an assistance dog.
Including the cost of Rottweiler pup Alvie, Vicky will have to shell out £5500 for training and each puppy exam.
To help raise money, Vicky and her friends have organised an 80s themed night at the Hibs Supporters Club on October 13, hoping the £10 tickets and a raffle will boost funds.
Vicky hopes that once Alvie has been properly trained, life for the family will become easier. She said: “We have been placed on a worldwide database to try and find a consultant from around the world who has seen this before.
“People ask me how you cope – you just do. I’m not saying we don’t have our bad days, but you just have play the hand you’re dealt.”
Vicky said one of the hardest parts is not knowing how to help her child.
“There’s no doctor to sit us down and say, ‘This is what your future holds. As a mum you strive and strive to find out what’s wrong with your child, thinking that you can fix it, or deal with what you know.”
“Mirryn finds it very difficult to communicate and we are learning sign language hoping that this will encourage her.
“Each day has its own battles – without specialised seating she cannot eat and without standing frames and special shoes she cannot stand independently; without specialised lighting Mirryn will not fix and follow with her eyes.
“Otherwise she is a very happy, lovable and social baby and I just love her to bits.”
Hibs fan Vicky said the support of family and friends, as well as the football club, has been great and hopes that once Alvie is properly trained, life for the family will become easier.
“Assistance dogs have to be bigger and stronger to help as the child grows, which is why we chose this breed. They need to be able to roll them over or help pull them up.”
“They can also pick up when the heart rate drops, or press a panic button – they’re absolutely amazing.”