In Iceland, a Labrador Retriever has been improving the life of a young girl with a genetic disorder.
The touching story of a little girl with a rare genetic disorder and her loving companion, a Labrador named Loki has been all over Icelandic social media over the past few days after a local woman posted their story on website Hundalifspostur.is.
Ísabella Eir Ragnarsdóttir suffers from a serious developmental disorder caused by Smith Magenis Syndrome or SMS. It is characterized by a number of wide-ranging symptoms including mild to moderate cognitive disabilities, sleep disturbances and behavioral problems including aggressiveness and self-harm.
Sigrún Guðlaugsdóttir has worked as Ísabella‘s support parent since she was three. She regularly takes care of Isabella to give her family time off and to let them catch up on sleep.
Sigrun’s Labrador Loki is not only a dog show champion, he also has an uncanny talent that makes him the perfect companion for Isabella.
Loki is able to calm Isabella in ways human adults cannot. The characteristics of SMS are difficulties sleeping and tantrums.
Sigrun recalls one situation when Isabella was not able to fall asleep despite being given her sleep medication. Isabella was climbing and spinning around on the sofa where she sleeps while staying with Sigrun.Loki who was lying on the floor the whole time, climbed up of the sofa, approached Isabella and just lay gently on top of her. Within two minutes she was calm and fell asleep.
Isabella is very rarely calm. Sigrun says that had she attempted to restrain Isabella in any way, she wouldn’t have responded the same way as she did with Loki. She would have thrown a tantrum. Frequent and violent tantrums are symptoms of SMS, but Loki and the other Labrador dogs in the house manage to calm the child down with ease.
Isabella has even participated in dog shows with Loki. It is unusual for a child with SMS to be able to stand still and follow cues, but Isabella walks alongside and stands attentively with Loki during dog shows.
Sigrun believes that the key is the unconditional love and understanding that the dogs show Isabella – they’ve bonded with her.
Glaumur, a younger Labrador who joined the home recently, learned from Loki and can also easily calm the child.
Where as Isabella has difficulties developing normal relationships with her peers because of her unusual and often inappropriate behavior, she has found loyal and understanding companions in Loki and Glaumur.
Isabella’s tantrums and sleeping problems have improved markedly over the time that she has stayed with Sigrun, Loki and Glaumur.
“I have no scientific studies to back me up, or explain this, only my conviction that the dogs are the reason for her calm,” says Sigrun. “Angels don‘t fly,” she says, “they walk”. In this case, on four legs.”
Image and article source: Hundalifspostur.is