9-year-old James Isaac copes with autism and, before he met his service dog Mahe, he had trouble handling his condition. In addition to his speech difficulties, James' mom Michelle told Stuff, “We couldn't even go to a cafe as a family. James would get very anxious and want to leave immediately.” Mahe–who was trained by The Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust–came into James' life and helped him better assimilate in environments that used to make him uncomfortable. “When we got Mahe, James would just sit there [at the cafe] waiting for us to finish our coffee,” said Michelle.
Mahe not only keeps James calm, he also protects him and makes sure he doesn't run away. Whenever James does go far away, his canine companion sits and refuses to move, forcing James to return because he doesn't want to leave Mahe behind. This powerful bond recently came in handy when James visited the hospital for an MRI scan to figure out the cause of his seizures. As he was placed under general anesthesia, Mahe heartwarmingly laid by James' side and continued to nuzzle his face. Michelle adds, “[Mahe] was just looking at James, and looking really worried.”
Before they were separated (so that James could be scanned), hospital photographer Louise Goossens witnessed their sweet and sturdy bond. She then captured the beautiful moment shared between a boy and his loyal dog.
Above photo via Louise Goossens
Photo via Louise Goossens
James and Mahe's friendship outside the hospital:
All photos via Michelle Isaac unless otherwise stated.