CHRISTMAS events which most youngsters take for granted are now possible for one eight-year-old. Noah Shone’s brighter outlook is all thanks to Peggy, a loveable two-year-old Labrador trained and provided by the national Support Dogs charity.

Noah, of Rugby, Warwickshire, is autistic, and before Peggy bounded into his life, getting him to leave the house was impossible, according to his mum, Kay Shone. But thanks to Peggy, who Noah describes as his “miracle dog”, he knows no limits.The family are enjoying a brighter festive season than they had previously. Kay said: “Christmas time has a lot of social pressures which Noah struggles with but having Peggy has actually given us the confidence to have a lot lower demand Christmas this year.

“We aren’t having a traditional sit down meal with the pressure that brings, we will be having a quiet day where Noah is free to evade all the social ‘norms’. Peggy will no doubt be spilt rotten with presents from everyone!”

So far this festive season – with Peggy in tow – Noah and his family have been ice skating.

“Noah fell over, which could have caused a massive meltdown, but he just laughed and carried on - the chances of that happening before Peggy were minuscule!”

Kay added: “Noah also managed to attend the school Christmas fair and a birthday party on the same day, something which would have been too much for him before Peggy. “Peggy went to the party and had lots of cuddles from Noah and the other children - it’s amazing how much her influence calmed the children down that just sat quietly with her.”

Peggy has provided a crux to Noah and his family since May, and Noah, Peggy and Kay graduated as an official partnership in October, following extensive training.

Incredibly, his autism wasn’t picked up until he was five.“We really noticed it during lockdown when we were trying to home school,” recalls Kay. “He’s very good at masking – at school he was the perfect child, but when he got home, we had the ‘explosions’. During lockdown we noticed it more as he was with us all the time. He got very germ-phobic over lockdown, so that didn’t help his nerves.” In particular, Noah didn’t like being given instructions, known as Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), and getting him to leave the house was impossible.

But now, thanks to Peggy, Noah is happy to get out and about.

“She’s just completely changed our lives,” said Kay, a 44-year-old admin manager. “Previously, Noah would stay in and didn’t want to go anywhere at weekends. Now we are off out doing all sorts of things he had never tried before – we have been to ski slopes, I’ve sat and watched Noah toboggan and we have been on holiday twice."

“Getting him out of the house was a big stumbling block, whereas now with Peggy, he’s quite happy to try things. Having his best friend next to him gives him that bit of confidence. If anything does go wrong, he can have a cuddle with her. He felt people were looking at him and was conscious of social situations. But now, he can focus on Peggy and he’s not concerned about what’s going on around him.”

Kay and her husband Robert, a 39-year-old computer programmer, realised the pressure of school really increased Noah’s anxiety, and soon after, they got an autistic diagnosis via private healthcare. Kay said she “spent forever” on Google, looking for anything that could help Noah, when up popped Support Dogs.

“Noah comes back from school and needs to decompress, and I’d read all these things about how good dogs could be at home, and we knew he liked dogs,” said Kay. She applied, but missed out on the selection process by one place. However, after another applicant dropped out, they were accepted on to the application process – not long before the charity’s maximum age cut-off point.

Describing the pride of graduating, Kay said: “It was good to lose the ‘L’ badge. Noah is so proud of her.”

“Support Dogs are just amazing. I couldn’t put into words how much they have changed our lives – it’s just fantastic, and not just Noah’s life, but the whole family."

“When Noah’s asleep, we’ve still got Peggy – she’s lovely to sit with and calm down and chill out with. If anyone can support them at all, they really should – they’re miracle workers.”

To find out more about Support Dogs’ autism assistance programme, please visit