The mom of a little boy with autism sensed her son’s need for love and went all out to get a service dog for him—and from the second they met, his life was transformed.
Shanna Niehaus’s son, Kai, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. The worried mother found it hard for herself to see Kai being lonely day after day. Besides his family, the little Kai had no permanent friends, and he often cried at night.
She decided to get a service dog for her son and contacted 4 Paws for Ability, a non-profit organization in Ohio, USA. Her touching story was shared on the organization’s website on Oct. 18, 2016, and was soon picked up by many other news media.
As this American family lived overseas in Japan, they worked hard to raise the funds to adopt a golden retriever named Tornado and have it trained especially for Kai.
Finally, after nearly two years of waiting, the family flew from Japan to Ohio to meet Tornado.
“This boy is the strongest child I have ever met; he has faced countless rude and ignorant adults and children who do not understand him, who have hurt him, and who have not valued him because he is different,” Shanna wrote on 4 Paws for Ability.
The moment they met Tornado, Kai’s reaction was pure magic—he adored him at first sight.
In an extraordinary moment, he went over and laid his head on Tornado’s soft pelt and put his arms around him.
Later in the day, Shanna shared a touching picture taken after Kai was finally able to sit down with Tornado. The photo took the internet by storm in 2016.
"See this moment? I've never experienced a moment like this. Yesterday was the first day my 5 year old Autistic son met…
The post read: “This picture captures the face of a mother who saw her child, who she can’t hug, wash, dress, snuggle and touch freely lay on his new Service dog of his own free will, with a purposeful, unspoken attachment.”
“This is the face of a mom who has seen her son experience countless failed social interactions on the playground in an attempt to have a friend. Any friend. Any kind of connection.
“And now she is sitting behind her son silently watching this moment, with the air sucked from her lungs, and no words to say.”
With the passage of time, the two have formed a unique bond.
Tornado’s nature is very friendly and he is a perfect companion for Kai. The adorable canine is taught to gently distract Kai from any form of anxiety and is trained in search and rescue. When out in public “on duty,” Tornado is tethered and harnessed to Kai to prevent him from wandering away.
Kai found in Tornado what he couldn’t receive from humans. The two just can’t get enough of each other.
“Somehow because of this—because of Tornado—I know everything will be okay. As a mother, I have seen countless challenging and painful moments my son has encountered and cried countless more. Yesterday however, I cried for a different reason. It is a feeling that is indescribable,” Shanna concluded.
Watch this heartwarming story in the video below: