Last updated: 19 Nov, 2019
Published on: 5 Mar, 2019
A friendship that didn’t need words
Most friendships start with a simple handshake. But when 15-year-old Leah, who has selective mutism, extended her hand for the first time, she received a tiny paw in return.
Leah’s condition affects her ability to effectively speak or communicate in social settings. Because of this, she is home-schooled and as a result, had missed out on the little joys that came with having lots of friends around her.
“I have selective mutism which makes it really difficult for me to talk to people. As a result of this, I can't go to a regular school as it is just too overwhelming for me, so I do schooling online from home,” Leah said.
To fill the void in her heart, Leah had been trying to convince her mum to adopt a dog for years.
Her search on PetRescue’s website didn’t just help her welcome a new pet, it also helped her find her best friend - Charlie.
The email that Leah sent the PetRescue team
Charlie, who was adopted from Blue Cross Animals Society Of Victoria, woofed his way straight into Leah’s heart. Unlike with humans, Leah’s selective mutism isn’t a communication barrier with Charlie, as they understand each other in a way that words simply cannot express.
Leah and Charlie have been firm friends ever since they got to know each other. They go for walks together and he also likes to snuggle up with her at night. More importantly, Charlie makes Leah feel protected and takes away the loneliness of not being constantly surrounded by teenagers her age.
“Having Charlie at home with me makes me feel safe and not so alone. I don't really have any friends, so having Charlie gives me a constant companion, he is my best friend,” said Leah.
Leah is now on a mission to convince her mum to adopt another dog. And she's pretty sure it won’t be as hard getting the go-ahead the second time around, given that Charlie was such a good fit.
“Getting Charlie was the best decision we've ever made. He's not our pet, he's a member of our family. Rescuing him not only changed his life, but it also changed ours,” said Leah.
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