Adopted Dog Helps 3-year-old Boy Overcome Fears and Find his Voice

Killian the puppy was only days old when he met his forever boy: Ollie.

Ollie + Killian

When Killian met Ollie, it was love at first sight. Thanks to his furry best friend, Ollie overcame his anxiety and began to communicate with his family.

"Even when Killian was just 5 days old, his bond with Ollie was instantaneous. Ollie reached out to hold just this one and like chemistry, they connected. Every day that summer he asked to ‘See puppy.’ Not all of them, just one. He spoke: ‘My Killian.’ The words started coming. Not momma. Not daddy. ‘My Killian.’"

Ollie was only 3 years old, and we had been working constantly with speech therapists. He hardly spoke and had anxieties over seemingly everything in life: taking him in the car was a nightmare. Understanding what he wanted nearly impossible, and I felt like a failure when his fears kicked in and panic ensued. A trip to the hardware store turned to terror because the floor was wet. I would have to leave my cart in the middle of shopping and take Ollie to the car in a meltdown. Everything petrified him; even the most basic things like the lawn mower, rain, and water. Then came Killian.

Killian was born to a litter of 12 whose mom had been pulled from a shelter. Even when Killian was just 5 days old, his bond with Ollie was instantaneous. Ollie reached out to hold him and like chemistry, they connected. Every day that summer he asked to “See puppy.” Not all of them, just one. He spoke: “My Killian.” The words started coming. Not momma. Not daddy. “My Killian.”

Killian and Ollie grew that summer, together. Great Dane genes pushed the puppy’s legs out and his body upward. With their friendship woven from that very first moment, Ollie would walk into the puppy pen and Killian would run to greet him. Off they would trot, connected. The first morning it rained, I thought for sure we would have to forgo our puppy visit as the day would normally be ruined by anxiety, but Ollie would not forsake his best friend. He begged. I resisted, worried we would get down the road and panic would take over. But their bond was stronger than the anxiety. My heart pounded every moment of that drive, but made it we did, and as Ollie and “his” Killian met one another, muddy paws grazed his pants. On any other day this would have ended me, but not today. Not with Killian. Mud was no match for what they had.

As weeks progressed, the puppies drew closer to leaving. We spoke at length with our 3-year-old about Killian going to his new home. He reminded me daily this was “my Killian” and as his vocabulary grew to encompass everything involved in his friend’s life, so did his assurance they would stay together. His words turned to sentences, his sentences to songs … we had no choice in the end but to accept it. These boys were meant for one another, and that autumn we finally brought his Killian home where he belonged. What this special dog has done for my sweet boy is indescribable. Apart from being Ollie’s best friend, Killian has given us our son back. He has freed him from demons we will never understand. Killian not only brought friendship to a tiny human in need but set this little boy’s soul on fire. We will forever be honored and humbled by their relationship, and constantly in awe of what this hero dog has done for his boy.

Each year, Petco Love Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Erika won Green Dogs Unleashed in Charlottesville, Virginia a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.