For 9-year-old James Isaac, the world can be a confusing and frightening place. As a boy with autism, James cannot speak and is uncomfortable with being touched.
Fortunately, James has Mahe, the devoted assistance dog who never leaves his side.
Recently, the New Zealand boy went to get an MRI scan to diagnose his seizures and Mahe was allowed to come with him, laying beside James in his hospital bed.
Even as James was being put under, Mahe remained devoted to keeping his young master safe, nuzzling his face.
“He was just looking at James, and looking really worried,” Michelle Isaac, James’s mom, told Stuff.co.nz.
But while Mahe’s help during the recent hospital visit was invaluable, Michelle says James’s best friend has been just as important on more routine outings since entering their lives two and a half years ago.
In addition to keeping James from wandering off or into harm’s way, the dog trained by Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust keeps James calm when they’re out in a public, where he used to feel anxious and fearful.
“There is such a magic that happens between a child with autism and the dogs, they just calm the kids down,” Wendy Isaacs, who works for the trust, told Stuff.co.nz. “The kids will maintain eye contact with the dog, but often not with their own parents and siblings.”