1. ITV Report

Boy with autism raises thousands for assistance dogs

Joel Sayer - who has autism - and his assistance dog Caddie who has changed his life Credit: ITV News

A 13-year-old boy from Newquay, who was in the finals at Crufts with his 'guardian angel' Caddie, has raised £32,000 to buy other assistance dogs so other children with autism can benefit from their transforming and calming influence.

Caddie was trained to work with a child with autism by the charity Dogs for Good.

There are special commands he follows but a lot of what he does is instinctive. He somehow senses when Joel feels stressed and will place his head or some of his body weight on Joel - gently de-stressing him.

Credit: ITV News

Joel and Caddie and mum Janet came into the ITV News West Country studio to be interviewed - a potentially stressful situation for anyone.

Joel took the experience in his stride but you can see in the photo that Caddie is gently resting his head on Joel, helping him as he chats to Kylie Pentelow and Mark Longhurst.

The 13-year-old describes Caddie as his guardian angel. Before he arrived, Joel had never smiled, and often refused to leave the house but all that has changed.

Caddie chilling out - but always alert - at home in Newquay Credit: ITV News

Some years on the pair have even competed at Crufts - making the finals of the Eukanuba Friends for Life category, which celebrates service and support dogs. Joel and his family want other children with similar problems to be able to benefit from assistance dogs too.

  • Watch Joel and his mum's full interview about life with Caddie and how they hope to help another children with autism: