Fund to help Bobby be Liam’s best friend

Liam Tuddenham, 3, has been diagnosed with autism. His parents, Ben and Charmaine, are trying to rai

Liam Tuddenham, 3, has been diagnosed with autism. His parents, Ben and Charmaine, are trying to raise money to train their dog Bobby to become a service dog for Liam. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Dogs are known as man's best friend. And one lovable pooch could soon become a little boy's lifeline.

Liam Tuddenham, 3, has been diagnosed with autism. His parents, Ben and Charmaine, are trying to rai

Liam Tuddenham, 3, has been diagnosed with autism. His parents, Ben and Charmaine, are trying to raise money to train their dog Bobby to become a service dog for Liam. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

For a Norfolk couple want to have Bobby the golden retriever trained to be a companion to their autistic three-year-old son, Liam.

Bobby would help little Liam remain safe, reduce his anxiety and become a firm friend.

But the heartwarming tale of puppy love has hit a hurdle – the training costs £7,140. Now Ben and Charmaine Tuddenham, from Taverham, have launched an appeal to raise the money to send their 11-month-old pet for the training to become an autism service dog.

Mr Tuddenham, 29, said Liam was diagnosed with autism six months ago, had no verbal communication and struggled to relate to the outside world.


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He added: 'iIt was quite a shock for us. We spent a lot of time looking into the different ways we could help Liam in his day-to-day life. For someone with autism, everything is an overload of the senses.

'As he is getting older it is becoming harder and harder to take him out of the house. We looked into autism service dogs and we found that it would be an ideal answer to these problems.'

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Bobby, who has been a part of the Tuddenham family since November, will go to Ireland for a four-week obedience course at the end of September.

Once the family is able to reach its fundraising target, Bobby will be able to go back to Ireland for an eight-week intensive training course to become a registered autism service dog.

Mrs Tuddenham, 27, said: 'He will be trained to sleep with Liam at night, and if Liam wakes he would come to me or my husband and wake us up.'

Michael Henry, from Service Dogs Europe, the company which will train Bobby, said: 'The service dogs make such a difference. I often hear relatives crying on the phone with happiness that the dog has arrived after training. They are just overjoyed.'

Mr and Mrs Tuddenham, who also have a 17-month-old son, James, said: 'We have no doubt that Bobby will make a great service dog for Liam; he is very intelligent and he is wonderful with children. It really will help our family so much.'

Donations to Liam's appeal can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/liamservicedog

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