What would you do if you won the lottery? It’s a question most of us have been asked and probably replied along the lines of taking all our mates on holiday, buying a flash car, or a one bedroom flat in central London.
But for Adam and Amy Pryor, they spent some of their winnings on a support dog for their disabled daughter Charlotte.
She was born seven weeks premature with a cleft palate and other life-limiting conditions, her conditions meant Charlotte was in hospital for most part of her early years.
Her parents, from Maidstone in Kent, made daily visits, but as time went by Amy’s maternity pay was nearing its end leaving mum and dad in a difficult finical position.
In August 2017 a small miracle happened, the family won £1 million on the EuroMillions and Charlotte was their top priority.
Mrs Pryor, 32, told The National: “Our lottery win, eight months after Charlotte was born, could not have come at a better time.
“The win took a lot of pressure off us and has enabled us to focus on what is most important, Charlotte.”
Amy always wanted a dog of her own after growing up with them as a child, so now was the perfect time to buy a support dog for her daughter.
The family spoke to Supporting Paws, and now – a year after Amy made the call – Merlin, a golden Labrador, is now being trained at their home.
Merlin is learning fast, he has already realised Charlotte’s hearing device is not a toy!
Mrs Pryor said: “Merlin is a dream come true.
“(He) is still in training but we can already see the positive impact he is having on Charlotte. He is learning to walk while attached to Charlotte’s wheelchair, which in turn is encouraging Charlotte to go out for walks and I see her looking around for him.”
Merlin is being trained so he can also accompany Charlotte anywhere she goes including hospital appointments.
Mr Pryor, 38, said: “Our lottery win has enabled us to do so much, from buying a bigger home with space for a specialist sensory room, to Amy giving up work to take care of Charlotte.
“But Merlin is by far our favourite purchase.”
Charlotte Chaney, from Supporting Paws, said: “As a person with autism and a parent of a young person with autism and learning difficulties, I have seen first-hand the difference a support dog can make to a family’s life.
“Merlin’s training has been tailored to Charlotte and her needs. For example, unlike most dogs who are trained not to jump up, we’ve trained Merlin to jump up so that he can engage with Charlotte while she is in her wheelchair.
“Similarly we’ve trained Merlin not to react to noises that Charlotte may make, which for other dogs would be a trigger to alert someone that something is wrong.”
The odds of winning the EuroMillions jackpot are 1 in 139,838,160.
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