"Love What Matters" recently posted on Facebook a touching photo of a mother, Shanna Niehaus, in tears as she watched her five-year-old son, Kainoa Niehaus, relax for the first time on his new service dog, Tornado.
The image captured the moment when her son, who has autism, reclined on Tornado while playing on his iPad, BBC News reported. Niehaus is seen seated behind the two as she covers her mouth to silence her crying.
The viral Facebook post from Oct. 18 shares a testimony from Niehaus explaining the story of how Tornado came into their lives after they had to travel from Japan, where they reside, to meet him in Ohio.
Based in Dayton, 4 Paws For Ability specializes in placing service dogs with veterans and children with disabilities. The organization wrote on Facebook, “I’m not sure why, but people still ask us why we place service dogs with children sometimes.” According to the post, this tear-jerking moment captures exactly why the non-profit continues its work.
Niehaus wrote in the third person, “This is the face of a mom who has seen her son experience countless failed social interactions on the playground in an attempt to have a friend. Any friend. Any kind of connection.”
Niehaus further explained that she “can’t hug, wash, dress, snuggle” her son freely because of his special needs and recalled how her son sometimes cries at night because he has a hard time making connections.
She wrote, “This boy is the strongest child I have ever met; he has faced countless rude and ignorant adults and children who do not understand him, who have hurt him, and who have not valued him because he is different.”
Niehaus explained that she knows her child’s life will improve because of Tornado. She wrote, “…because of Tornado — I know everything will be okay.”
As the photos that were posted on Facebook Friday confirm, Tornado and his new human, Kainoa, are more than pleased to be together at last. The images of the two playing together are a sweet reminder that dogs really can be a child's best friend.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Ali Jarekji