Niles is our Girl’s Best Friend

Sabina, our 9-year old daughter, is intellectually disabled. At two years of age she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1. The range and severity of symptoms varies greatly among sufferers and the rate of its progression is not predictable.

Sabina is a much-loved member of the Gibson family of five. She goes to a local school in Lake Hawea in the South Island of New Zealand where she has a teacher aide. Life with Sabina is challenging and particularly hard on her older sister and brother. She knows she is different. She struggles to make sense of the world around her. Sabina craves social interaction and gets very sad and frustrated when she’s excluded or rejected.

She’s at an age where the gap between the normal and disabled world is becoming more and more evident. Her peers, while fantastic with her, operate at a much higher level and are moving on.

As a family we realise she will never be able to live independently, manage herself, her diet, finances, drive etc.

Now, through the generosity of Assistance Dogs New Zealand (ADNZ) Sabina has been given another opportunity to live as happy and fulfilled a life as possible.

Sabina now has her very own constant unflappable companion and ‘bestie’ – a golden Labrador called Niles, who’ll be with her as much as possible. We hope Niles will give Sabina the confidence and motivation to engage in activities outside her comfort zone, lessen her anxiety levels in unfamiliar situations and places, and make the public aware of and more understanding of her disability. Having Niles will allow us to do more things together as a family.

ADNZ is a Trust that raises funds to train dogs to assist individuals and their families whose lives are affected by disability. It takes 15 months to train a dog and costs $20 000.

As a family we’ve committed to raise $20 000 to enable ADNZ to train another assistance dog. In addition to this Give-A-Little appeal, Assistance Dogs New Zealand has been chosen by The Architectural Roofing Company Ltd as its official charity in perpetuity.