Oxygen-toting pup to help sick Kiwi toddler
A labradoodle puppy has been picked out to do a very special job for a little boy from Levin.
Frankie Watson has an extremely rare lung disease which means he's constantly on oxygen tanks that have to be carried by his mum or dad - but not for much longer.
"Having Mali assisting Frankie is definitely going to change and improve his ability to just basically be mobile like any other child," says mum Nadia Watson.
Frankie is the only child in New Zealand known to have Neuroendocrine Hyperplasia of Infancy (NEHI).
It means he's not getting enough oxygen into his lungs to grow so 24 hours a day he's hooked up to tanks his parents wear in a backpack.
Eventually that'll be Mali's job, to carry two 2.5kg oxygen cylinders for Frankie.
Ms Watson was inspired by an assistance dog in the US.
"There's a little girl in the states called Alida Knobloch, she has NEHI the same as Frankie," Ms Watson says.
"And I thought if they could do it, so could we."
It looks like Mali and Frankie will be just as protective of each other - talk to his sister about the puppy, and Frankie chimes in.
"I think it's beautiful," Ms Watson says.
"I just love the picture that Mali doesn't just bring for Frankie but just as a family. When you've got a child with a disability - it just brings a sort of a unity together."
The pair have to part again for now as Mali finishes his training, but within the year, they'll be literally inseparable.
The Watson family and Assistance Dogs NZ need to raise $20,000 for the training and ongoing care of Mali.