When Beau was born, he was just like any other boy. But by the age of 2, Beau still wasn’t walking, and he was having frequent seizures. Without warning, Beau would drop to the ground. The colour would drain from his face. He’d begin to shake, and his mum Diana would softly stroke his arm and talk to him. She didn’t know if he could hear her, but that was all she could do.
Diana and Leigh were terrified—what was happening to their little boy?
Diana searched desperately for an answer. Eventually she found a checklist that described Beau perfectly… Behind on milestones. Balance difficulties. No speech. Seizures. An obsession with water—this was the moment of clarity. Beau had a knack for finding a dripping tap, a drain pipe, a pool…
Eventually the specialist confirmed what Diana knew in her heart, and Beau was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome when he was just 3 years old. The chances of a child being born with this rare disorder is similar to winning a lottery: only 1 in 15,000. But this is a lottery that no parent ever wishes to win.
For Leigh, this diagnosis hit him hard. He was devastated. “I had dreams of going to watch Beau play sport on the weekend”—all the dreams a father has for his son—shattered.
Despite being on medication, Beau still suffered from seizures. Earlier this year he was rushed to hospital vomiting, after a horrific seizure at school. He had fallen, hitting his head on the desk so hard that he was concussed. Can you imagine receiving this gut-wrenching phone call about your child?
The family lived with constant fear—their home was “like Fort Knox”. The world outside was just too dangerous for Beau. They lived between a river and a lake. Water. Beau’s weakness. He would jump straight in—without hesitation. And he might not come out.
If Beau was missing from her sight for just a few minutes, his sister Lara had a panic attack. She would desperately search for him, crying. She had seen a story on the news of a child like Beau, who had drowned, and it scared her.
Diana explains: “We were constantly on edge—we were all on full alert, all the time.”
But when Companion Dog Bonnie arrived just a few months ago, their lives changed completely.
Bonnie had begun training at Guide Dogs WA, but she was destined for something a little different. Her unique skills meant she would make a perfect companion for a child with disability. They’d really won the lottery this time. Bonnie was the most precious gift they could have ever received.
Beau was over the moon. The pair took to each other instantly. Two peas in a pod. Digging in the sandpit. Playing tug-of-war. Best friends. Running. Playing. Laughing.
At seven years old, he’d only mastered a handful of words—but suddenly Beau had someone who understood him.
“They don’t have speech, but they have love. That’s all they need,” says Diana.
With Bonnie, Beau has fewer meltdowns. When he does, she’s right there with him. When he starts getting worked up, he sits with Bonnie. Talks to Bonnie. Cuddles Bonnie. He calms down. The whole house calms down.
And since her arrival, Beau has not had a single seizure.
The generous support of our donors means so much to parents like Diana and Leigh: “if we could thank everyone personally, we would. Bonnie is just what Beau needed. Thank you.”
This Christmas, Beau’s family will celebrate the greatest gift they’ve ever received—Bonnie.
Donate today to enable more Companion Dogs like Bonnie, to transform the lives of kids like Beau.
Many heartfelt thanks to Alex Cearns from Houndstooth Studio for photography.