CAIRNS youngster Jonno Cattell is well-known for his tough battle with illness but today the 10-year-old’s face was all smiles as he was presented with ‘Dixie’, a one-year-old poodle cross.
The Cattell family has had a tough time in the last couple of years, with Jonno being diagnosed with a brain stem glioma in 2011. After extensive surgery, he is still undergoing regular MRI scans.
After his operation, his parents fulfilled a long-standing desire of Jonno’s to have his own puppy. They bought a Kelpie cross, but as he grew up it became evident that ‘Red’ was too boisterous, so sadly he had to be returned.
Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, who has played a key role in supporting the family, had a chance meeting with Jonno’s dad Ron recently and was updated on the situation.
“Ron said he and Jonno were quite disappointed that they had to let Red go,” Mr Entsch said. “Unfortunately Red was a bit unsuitable as a companion dog, but I said I’d have a look around.”
Keen to help, Mr Entsch got in touch with YAPS Animal Refuge at Smithfield and asked them to keep their eyes open for a dog that would be a appropriate companion for Jonno.
And today, it all came together when Jonno was surprised with little Dixie at the YAPS centre and while it was a little overwhelming at first, the pair were soon firm friends.
“Jonno’s always had his heart set on having a dog; he even put up a notice at the local Lake Placid store advertising his services as a dog walker,” said Mr Entsch.
“Dixie will be perfect for him – being a poodle cross she is very intelligent, but she doesn’t need lots of exercise and is happy with pats and affection.
“And even better, she’ll be allowed inside the house because she doesn’t shed hair, isn’t smelly, and as a companion dog she’s quite at home on someone’s lap instead of chasing a ball outside.”
Mr Entsch said he approached YAPS as it was a logical choice, and he commended YAPS treasurer Carol Clifton for her help in identifying Dixie as a suitable companion for Jonno. Mr Entsch arranged for Dixie to be spayed, micro-chipped, groomed and registered before the presentation today.
“Animals are wonderful therapy for children who are facing challenges in their lives,” he said.
“It’s also very important to highlight the challenges faced by an organisation like YAPS, which relies heavily on community support.
“Nothing saddens me more than the inhumanity of individuals who are cruel to animals, so being able to provide a loving home to these animals is very rewarding.”
Ron Cattell was all smiles as he watched the pair bond, with Jonno wasting no time in cuddling and walking the friendly pup and both agreed Dixie will be sleeping on the foot of the bed tonight.
Ms Clifton said it was lovely to see Jonno’s reaction and was confident that Dixie would make a wonderful companion for him. However she added that the challenge to re-home animals was ongoing, with the centre continually full and more pets on waiting lists.
“We really need more families to adopt some of the animals,” she said. “We have an overload on everything at the moment – puppies, kittens, adult cats and adult dogs, who all need good homes.
“We are also desperately short of wet kitten food, kitty litter, and good-quality dry puppy food. A lot of the puppies we get are in pretty bad shape so the advanced re-hydrateable food is really good for them. And ten acres of land for the facility wouldn’t go amiss either!”
If anyone would like to make a donation to YAPS, please visit their website at www.yaps.com.au.
Donations of goods are greatly appreciated and can be dropped off at YAPS at McGregor Road in Smithfield, or at the collection bins at Raintrees Shopping Centre, Smithfield Shopping Centre (at the Coles end), Earlville Shopping Centre (in front of Woolworths) or at the Pet Café on Anderson St.
Ron Cattell and YAPS treasurer Carol Clifton look on as Dixie and Jonno get to know each other.