Well-deserved festive treats for lifesaving assistance dog Costa
A hero dog who has saved a little boy's life three times came in for some extra-special praise yesterday.
For Costa and his cute four-legged friends enjoyed some treats courtesy of Santa, played by big-hearted Lottery winner, Sharin McCourt, during a visit to Assistance Dogs NI (ADNI).
Costa, a young black Labrador, is an assistance dog who has been living in Castlerock with Henry (11), who suffers from autism, since September this year.
Henry's mum Barbara Smyth says the family have Costa to thank for saving their son's life.
"Costa has saved our son's life on three different occasions - you cannot put a price on that," she said.
"He's our hero and we couldn't love him any more or pour enough praise on the work that ADNI does for families like us.
"We would like to thank them and to pay tribute to Costa, who is a real Christmas miracle to us."
Lucky Londonderry woman Sharin, who won £250,000 on a National Lottery scratchcard, donated some much-needed bags of pet food for ADNI to keep its newest trainees - Dottie and Dixie, both two 12-week old Labradors - fed and happy into the new year.
Sharin said: "The work that ADNI does is truly remarkable.
"The dogs provide essential care for the children they are placed with, but also an unstinting loyalty and friendship that improves the lives of the kids and their families.
"I am honoured to have helped out and to have met some of these incredible dogs."
ADNI has also received £697,825 from the Big Lottery Fund for its five-year Supporting Children, Supporting Families programme, which will help to provide essential training for dogs which will be placed with disabled children throughout Northern Ireland.