A Staffordshire bull terrier has helped an 11-year-old boy get over a dog phobia, which ruled his life.
Christopher Bywater, from Keyworth in Nottingham, had managed to overcome his fear of other animals but he was still scared of dogs. In a bid to help him conquer this final hurdle, his family came to the RSPCA rescue centre in Radcliff-On-Trent to find a puppy for them to adopt.
However, once they had chosen a dog, Christopher was too scared to come near the playful pup. He was obviously very upset that his family wouldn’t be able to take the dog home, so animal care manager Ella Herring suggested he try Pets as Therapy.
That was when Marylyn Godber stepped in with her Staffie, Bones, who works with the elderly in care homes and other children with fears. Even though Bones is a rescue dog himself Marylyn says he has a "happy, placid and laid back temperament".
According to dad, Jim, Christopher wouldn’t even go into the area where Bones was off the lead. "But eventually he managed to go in and hold Bones’ lead and even stroke and hug him,” he said.
Within a week, Christopher’s confidence around Bones was so good, that the family put their name down for a rescued Staffie of their own.
"I’m quite over the moon that in such a short space of time Bones helped Chris to conquer his fears," said Marylyn.
The Bywaters are now the proud owners of a six-year-old Staffie called Bella, which Jim describes as a "little darling".
“Chris has gone from not daring to go anywhere near dogs to having her sitting on his knee, fussing her and taking her out for walks,” said Jim. "We’ve found out that Staffordshire bull terriers have great temperaments and without dogs like Bones and Bella, Chris’ life would have carried on being ruled by this phobia."