When Amanda Leask rescued a dog from a horrific meat truck in Thailand, she never could have imagined the remarkable effect he would have on her severely autistic son.
Amanda had stumbled across a photograph of Miracle on board the truck bound for the restaurants of Vietnam on Facebook.
After securing his rescue, Amanda, from Inverness, embarked on a mission to get him home to Scotland. But her intervention not only transformed the life of her future pet but that of her six-year-old son, Kyle.
“It was an independent rescuer that I followed regularly,” Amanda explains. “She was posting these pictures, and one morning I just happened to tune in to her page and saw a picture of this dog hanging off a truck, unsure if it was even alive. I said, ‘Get the dog out and I’ll sponsor it and raise funds.’”
Miracle was housed among 3,000 other dogs for eight weeks, where he got seriously ill while suffering from a serious skin condition. He would go on to spend another nine months in a Bangkok clinic before he was well enough to make the lengthy journey to Scotland.
Amanda and Miracle arrived at Edinburgh’s Waverley train station on 4 April, 2014 – World Stray Animal’s Day – after she had collected him from rescuers in London.
The mother of one wasn’t sure what to expect when she got home. Her son Kyle, who suffers from both cerebral palsy and autism, is unable to speak and only makes sounds.
“When you bring a rescue dog in you’ve got to be really careful, especially when you’ve got kids,” says Amanda, who has adopted several as pets. “The most well-tempered dog could have their buttons pushed and could turn, you just never know.”
But as time progressed, Amanda and her husband Tobias began to notice that Miracle had formed a different kind of relationship with their son than other dogs they had rescued.
“When Kyle has a bit of a meltdown, you need to get him at the right time, but the dog can alleviate that. Because autistic children are very sensory, touching Miracle or just seeing him walking about wagging his tail can help his symptoms.
“It’s a friendship. Miracle lets us know when Kyle’s special taxi is pulling into the drive and barks until its off-loaded. He walks around the pram and licks and sniffs him, he doesn’t clamber all over him like other dogs would – he’s very in tune.”
Kyle and Miracle received the Friends for Life award at Crufts last year. Following the win, Amanda was encouraged to share her story in her first book, titled Miracle.
“Miracle and Kyle have become ambassadors for the fact that dogs from a very horrible place can make loving pets. I think we can help many, many other dogs,” says Amanda.