Daniel and his assistance dog Piper are this year's Heroes ambassadors for Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland.
Before Piper's arrival to the Gilsenan family, Daniel was a constant flight risk and even the simplest of tasks of going to the shop for milk was extremely difficult. However, since Piper joined the household, the whole family’s lives has been transformed. According to Mark, Daniel’s dad, Piper is a “gentle leader”, keeping Daniel comfortable and calm.
One recent example of Piper saving the day was Daniel's First Holy Communion. Pre-Piper Daniel found it very challenging to sit still in one place for a prolonged period of time, however, since Piper’s arrival, everyday tasks and outings have become more enjoyable for both Daniel and his family. Daniel was able to sit through his full Holy Communion ceremony with a proud Piper by his side and an even prouder family watching on. The Gilsenans are a big GAA family, and have also been able to attend matches together with Piper keeping Daniel safe and comfortable.
Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland (AADI) receives over 300 yearly applicants but can only fulfil approximately thirty requests. It costs €25,000 to train and support one dog throughout their lifetime. The funds raised through Woodie’s Heroes campaign will enable AADI to expand our puppy programme and change the lives of more children who need the support of a dog like Piper.