Thai dog survivor wins world award - The Nation

Thai dog survivor wins world award
The Nation March 13, 2015 3:28 pm

The amazing bond between a severely disabled six-year-old boy and his Thai rescue dog was recognised last Sundy at the world's most famous dog show, Crufts. "Miracle", rescued from Thailand's illegal dog meat trade and adopted by the Leask family in Strathglass, Scotland, beat nearly 200 other dogs to win the prestigious Crufts Eukanuba Friends for Life award.

Yet just two years ago, things looked very different for the Thai crossbreed. Miracle was snatched from the streets of northeast Thailand, and loaded onto a truck with hundreds and hundreds of other stolen dogs, all destined for the dog meat restaurants of Hanoi.

Luckily for Miracle, the truck carrying him to what would have been a slow and agonisingly painful death was intercepted by agents working for the Phuket-based Thai animal welfare charity Soi Dog Foundation, who've been fighting the illegal trade for the past four years. The dogs were taken to a purpose-built shelter in northeast Thailand, and adopters were sought.

Amanda Leask spotted Miracle's photo shortly after he'd been rescued on a Soi Dog Facebook post. Devastated by his plight and the hopelessness of his situation, she enquired about adopting him. Already an owner of three rescue dogs from Soi Dog, Amanda very soon had her fourth.

Amanda's son Kyle, 6, was born with cerebral palsy, and later diagnosed with autism. It is incredibly difficult for him to communicate with his family. Leask decided to adopt some small dogs to be company for him, having heard that autistic people can develop extremely close relationships with dogs. Miracle is the latest of them, but it's Kyle and Miracle who have developed a remarkably close bond, where there appears to be a complete unspoken mutual understanding.

"They've both faced so much hardship in their lives, it's like there's an unspoken language between them. When Kyle gets upset because he can't convey what he wants to, Miracle will go and lay at his side for Kyle to touch and stroke. Miracle seems to automatically know when Kyle needs him", Leask said.

"If Kyle simply wants some attention, Miracle will go over and shower him with kisses. And it works the other way too. Kids can build up confidence in dogs where they seek solace, and Miracle gets this in abundance from Kyle".

The unique bond between man and dog is still yet to be explained fully. But Leask knows how much it has helped Kyle. "He seems so much happier in the presence of Miracle. It's like they're soul mates."

Miracle won 1,500 pounds (Bt72,000) for his Crufts award, and Amanda will share the money between Soi Dog Foundation and the Autistic Society.