Animals are genuinely fantastic aren’t they? Every single day we hear more and more stories of all the wonderful things they do for us and we have to admit, this story is a corker.
The Huffington Post reports that a miniature horse in runners is helping a 4-year-old special needs child to reclaim his independence.
Zoe, a black mare, is a service animal for junior infants student Zaiden Beattie at the Russian Jack Elementary School in Alaska.
Zoe wears runners to stop her from slipping on the tiles (image via AP)
Zaiden suffers from a genetic disorder known as Ataxia-Telangiectasia (or A-T) which means that he can’t coordinate movement. Zaiden will eventually end up in a wheelchair but for the time being Zoe is helping him to walk steady so he can attend school like everyone else.
“He moves around a lot better and has more energy if he’s got a hand on someone, either holding someone’s hand or a hand on something,” said Lesley Zacharias, Zaiden’s mammy.
“My personal goal is [to see him] in first grade with a pony instead of a walker,” she added.
Zoe has become a familiar face in the community (image via AP)
Zoe began making appearances in Zaiden’s school last January and is now learning how to carry out simple tasks so she can be even more of a help to little Zaiden.
“She’s providing balance and mobility, and she’s learning how to pick things up and eventually hand things to him,” said Ms Zacharias.
Most A-T sufferers end up in a wheelchair by the time they reach the age of 16 and the illness also causes immune system problems and a high rate of cancer. Patients usually die in their 20s, according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute.
“It’s progressive. Fatal. Basically he’s going to lose his brain cells in his cerebellum, so he’ll just continually lose motor skill ability,” said Ms Zacharias.
It’s clear that Zaiden and Zoe absolutely adore each other (image via AP)
While having a service horse is unusual, Zaiden’s teacher, Cynthia Temple, was happy to welcome Zoe into her classroom because the pony has helped to make Zaiden’s life better.
“My goal as a teacher for all the kids is independence, regardless of their needs. For Zaiden, an independent thing was putting on his coat, which was a big feat, and using the zipper. Now Zoe is part of how Zaiden is going to function, walking and getting up from his chair, those little things I can already see,” said Ms Temple.
Judging from the pictures, it’s clear that Zoe absolutely adores Zaiden and he loves her just as much. We have no words except fair play to the school – it’s clear the staff are dedicated to giving this little boy as much help as they can. Sound or what?