New book Friends inDEED shining spotlight on assistance dogs

We all know that dogs are known as man's best friend, but what about the suggestion that they can help children to read, transform the lives of kids with autism and even help a blind man recover from the death of his wife?

These are just some of the stories in a new book about assistance dogs - and yes, it's all true.

Lachlan Carnahan is a nonverbal child with autism but his best friend Lady understands him just fine. In fact, if it wasn't for her, Lachlan probably wouldn't be out today.

"Before we had Lady, Lachlan just would never want to interact with others, he wouldn't want to go out and we did start spending a lot of time at home," Sam Carnahan says.

Lady is pretty special. She's an assistance dog specifically trained to love, understand and protect 12-year-old Lachlan who has gone from being misunderstood to the centre of attention. 

"It's given him confidence. Now you hear him smiling and laughing and a different child to what he was before, because he's got a best friend now," Lachlan's mother Sinead Carnahan says.

And now he's gracing the cover of a new book aptly named Friends inDEED, telling the transformational tales of 41 assistance dogs.

"I think it must enrich anyone's life to read about these people and the dogs - the dogs are amazing. I knew the dogs would be amazing. I'm a convert to animals but the people, you know, to be honest it restored my faith in human nature these people," author Sue Allison says.

The Kaiapoi Library hosted an event of different sorts with people and their beloved pooches all invited. Geoff Taylor was there with his guide dog Opal who moved in a year ago when he needed her the most.

"She's more than a guide dog. She's my friend and I've been through a lot of tough times in recent years with my wife dying and things like that so she means a lot to me," he says.

Then there's Hazel whose job serves her just as much as the children she helps. 

"Hazel was a rescue dog and she suffered severely with anxiety issues, separation anxiety," owner Kim Flanagan says.

Hazel offers a non-judgemental ear for those learning to read.

"It's just for one hour a day the children read for 15 minutes so it's four children each day," Waimakariri librarian Donna McMillan says. "She's in hot demand."

Not that Hazel's one for the spotlight.