This non-verbal child lived a lonely life before finding his best friend – a deaf dog!


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Brandi Guillet's son Connor can't speak to people... But he can communicate just fine with his dog, Ellie

For a non-verbal child, the world can be a rather difficult place.

Not being able to speak can severely limit your communication with others, and a lot of non-verbal children have rather lonely childhoods.

So when Brandi Guillet adopted her non-verbal son Connor, she was determined that he would lead a normal, happy life, like all parents want for their precious children.

Connor is a non-verbal child (Credit: Brandi Guillet) ©Brandi Guillet

Brandi and her husband went through many distressing failed rounds of IVF before coming to the conclusion that instead, they would adopt.

After a failed adoption with a baby girl named Ellie that fell through late into the process, she received a call saying that a baby boy needed a loving family.

Speaking to Facebook blog Love What Matters, she said: "The call came while I was just sitting at the table and it was the social worker. I only remember bits and pieces of that conversation: 'abandoned baby boy'... 'NICU'... 'withdrawal'... 'possible genetic condition'."

The little boy had been born addicted to opioid painkillers and abandoned by his birth mother, spending a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit waiting for a family to adopt him.

Connor is best pals with Ellie (Credit: Facebook/ Love What Matters & Brandi Guillet) ©Facebook/ Love What Matters & Brandi Guillet

Connor, who has DiGeorge syndrome, or 22q11 deletion syndrome, has now grown up into a lovely, happy, six-year-old child - but he has never spoken, making it difficult for him to make friends. Brandi and her husband decided to find him a friend, and came across a local animal rescue home that they discovered looked after some dogs who were deaf.

After Brandi explained her son's condition to the rescue shelter worker, she was told that some of the dogs could understand American Sign Language - which Connor is able to use a little.

They went to meet the dog - whose name, spookily, was Ellie: "She immediately began licking Connor and let him put his hands all over her face."

Connor and Ellie have a special bond (Credit: Brandi Guillet) ©Brandi Guillet

DiGeorge Syndrome, or 22q11 deletion syndrome, is when a small portion of a chromosome is deleted. According to the NHS, children who have DiGeorge syndrome can suffer from a range of symptoms, but rarely will they have them all.

Symptoms include learning and behavioural problems, speech and hearing impediments and heart and hormone problems.

After they fostered Ellie and took her home, the little lad and Ellie had an almost immediate bond. Brandi said: "It is the most beautiful thing to see: he shakes his finger at his dog and the dog stops what he's doing. Connor motions 'come here' and she goes to him. And all of a sudden my non-verbal son has a best friend he can talk to and who understands him.

"He'll point to her ears and shake his head no: 'She can't hear'. If she's sleeping he taps her lightly first so she doesn't freak out. He knows how to make certain accommodations for her, and that's intuitive."

The two are inseparable (Credit: Brandi Guillet) ©Brandi Guillet

Brandi adds that Ellie's hearing impairment makes things easier when Connor has the occasional tantrum: "She can't hear it - she doesn't know what's happening! She just stands by him as he calms down. Any time he's upset, he goes to Ellie first, then me!

"I knew as soon as she came home that she wasn't leaving. She was my son's best friend instantly."

But things weren't as simple as that - Ellie was only supposed to stay with them temporarily over Christmas, as they couldn't afford the adoption fees.

And sadly, Ellie was offered a forever home over the Christmas break.

Ellie was only supposed to be a temporary member of the family (Credit: Brandi Guillet) ©Brandi Guillet

Brandi said: "Then one day the phone rang. It was the rescue shelter telling me that she had been adopted. At first I was heartbroken that we would have to give her up."

But it turned out that all was not as it seemed - after reading about Brandi and Connor's story online, someone came forward to pay the adoption fees for the family. She continued: "Then they said 'You have a guardian angel in New Jersey.'

"Who would do that? It's just a picture of a boy and a dog! And a random person, whom I don't know, did an amazing act of kindness that changed our lives."

A total stranger named Tina who, it turned out, lived only 15 minutes away from the family, had seen their story go viral on the internet and called up the shelter to pay the fee anonymously.

A complete stranger offered the money for the family to adopt Ellie (Credit: Brandi Guillet) ©Brandi Guillet

After somehow finding each other on Facebook, Tina and Brandi are now friends.

Tina, a dog owner herself, explained why she did the amazing thing that she did: "What she does for Connor and Ellie... It takes a strong person to handle the accommodations Connor and Ellie both need every day. I look up to her and admire her so much.

"I did what I did because any child or pet with special needs - it's expensive. I wanted to give Brandi some room to breathe. It was clear that dog was right where it needed to be."

What an amazing random act of kindness!

Have you ever either done a random act of kindness or been on the receiving end of one? We want to hear YOUR story - email us or get in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

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