It’s a lovely success story:  after three years as an autism assistance dog, chocolate Labrador Tyler has retired early. His owner, 11-year-old Brady, has found the confidence to live his life independently without the support of his canine companion.

When support dog Tyler came into seven-year-old Brady Bazan’s life, the little boy and his family were struggling to cope with the impact of his autism.

Brady’s unprovoked behavioural outbursts were generating a stream of negative comments from uninformed members of the public, and the youngster’s erratic sleep patterns made life exhausting.

But such is the progress made in the past three years by Brady, now aged 11,  that Tyler has been officially retired as a support dog a full four years before he was due to stand down.

“We’re eternally grateful for everything Support Dogs have done for us; they’re a wonderful charity,” says Brady’s mum Layla, from Leeds. “We’re so lucky to have had a support dog because so many others in our situation aren’t so fortunate.

Tyler still plays a crucial role with Brady, but no longer needs Tyler’s support when he leaves the house."

The arrival of Tyler when Brady was seven hugely reduced his anxiety levels whilst out and about. Having the visible presence of a working assistance dog in a jacket attached to Brady was also important in reducing hostile comments from members of the public about the young boy’s behaviour. Layla even recalls on one occasion before they had support dog a stranger who was passing by told her that her child needed a good slap which she fund upsetting.

Brady’s sleep patterns were extremely erratic but Tyler’s presence enabled the youngster to move out of his mum’s room to sleep with his dog. Now Brady is happy to sleep on his own while Tyler occupies the sofa downstairs.

Says Layla: “We phased Brady’s attachment to Tyler out gradually. Brady will occasionally ask if Tyler can go to the supermarket with him, but we explain that Tyler no longer wears a jacket and needs a rest and doesn’t work anymore and he accepts that. But they still have fun and go out for walks. He would never accept Tyler being taken away from him, but he knows that Tyler needs a rest.

“Brady has always had such a response to dogs. You could put him in a room with 100 people and one dog, and he’d find the dog. But the ultimate goal is for the child not to need a dog. Now, if we go to Alton Towers we say that Tyler won’t be coming as he can have a nice rest. I know that Brady is capable and doesn’t need him anymore.

“We can go to theme park, go on holiday, and Brady can deal with the stress and anxieties and doesn’t need that external comfort that he had before.”

 Brady and Tyler have an enduring bond of friendship which is unlikely to change with the dog’s retirement. When Brady has one of his outbursts, the family’s pet dog Lady goes straight upstairs and hides under the bed. Not Tyler though. His training kicks in and he comes into the room and immediately calms Brady down.

Brady attends a special school in Leeds and although his speech is delayed, he is thriving.  Like many youngsters with autism, in some areas he is hyper-focused; in other areas not at all. As Layla puts it: “He can tell me all the names of the stars in the solar system, but can’t write his own name. If he’s interested in something he can learn a massive amount of information about it, but he can’t do simple tasks.

“But we’re positive. We stay in the present and deal with the issues in front of us, and when you do that nothing is in surmountable.

“Meanwhile,” she adds: “Tyler is officially retired, aged six, doing minimal work living a fantastic life! He has always made Brady laugh. And the crazier he is the more Brady loves him.”

Rita Howson, chief executive of Support Dogs said: “The aim of our autism programme is that the youngsters no longer need a support dog as they reach adolescence. And have the confidence to leave the house independently.  The fact that Brady has made such great progress that Tyler is able to retire early is a fantastic achievement for both boy and dog.”