Meet Ruby and Barlow

Posted August 18, 2022
Meet Ruby and Barlow

There are two new recruits at Guide Dogs WA, who are ready to take on a two-year training journey in preparation to become life-changing therapy dogs.

The addition of puppies to the training program means the team at Kites Children’s Therapy (sister brand to Guide Dogs WA) will be able to support an additional 160 Western Australian children and their families through the Dog-Assisted Therapy program.

The program led by occupational therapists is designed to help children achieve their therapy goals across a number of areas, including social participation, emotional regulation, gross and fine motor skills development, communications skills, pretend play, turn-taking and self-care.

Telethon was given the opportunity to name these puppies in recognition of Telethon’s support through funding for Kites.

The pups have been named in honour of two individuals who are incredible examples of the Telethon spirit. They both have seen more than their fair share of challenges but their resilience and passion to help others is unparalleled.

Meet Ruby, named after Ruby Rolph.

Ruby Rolph entered the world prematurely.

Born when her mother was just 27 weeks pregnant, Ruby’s parents Naila Luis and Leo Rolph said she was battling the odds right from the start.

After a month in the newborn intensive care unit, Ruby contracted meningitis and magnetic resonance imaging revealed damage to her brain.

At just six months of age, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and life for Ruby and her family changed drastically.

Ruby’s parents made the decision to become a single-income family, giving the ability for one parent to dedicate all their time and energy to helping Ruby achieve her milestones.

Ruby Rolph meeting Ruby, one of the new puppies at Guide Dogs WA. Credit: Supplied.

Now, Ruby is a high school student and her parents describe their only child as an energetic, social butterfly with a great sense of humour.

Ruby is creative, with a flair for art and writing. She loves dancing and is very enthusiastic about group sports.

Ruby has lost count of how many intensive therapy stints she has taken part in, she stopped counting at 20!

Four years ago, Ruby was granted her Physical Assistance Dog which has made a huge impact on her mental wellbeing and independence at home. She is now actively fundraising to sponsor the training and placement of an Assistance Dog to pay it forward in an attempt to make a difference in another child’s life.

Meet Barlow, named after Emily Barlow.

Emily Barlow was born at 32 weeks and diagnosed with bilateral spastic diplegia cerebral palsy just before her first birthday.

Although Emily had been discharged from hospital outpatients because she had done so well, her movement patterns just didn’t seem right.

Life after diagnosis involved therapy, and as much cheeky therapy as possible – baking to get Emily standing was an easy option, as she loved it.

With therapy, Emily continued to get stronger and progressed from a walker to walking with quad sticks, but independent walking still seemed a massive target.

When she turned five years old, she became eligible for Healthy Strides Foundation Clinical Lead Dayna Pool’s Telethon-funded iStride research program.

Emily Barlow meeting Barlow, one of the new puppies at Guide Dogs WA. Credit: Supplied.

On Good Friday in 2018, the day after the six-week research program finished, Emily took her first independent steps.

Since then a number of programs at Healthy Strides Foundation has been completed, including using baking to develop different fine motor skills.

As Emily has gotten older, the focus has shifted from therapy to involving her in activities that provide an avenue for exercise, including swimming, horse riding, frame running and ballroom dancing.

Emily regularly dons the cooking apron to raise as much funds as possible for charity through her passion for baking.

Ruby and Emily at Guide Dogs WA presented with the Certificate of Birth for the new puppies. Credit: Supplied.

We were thrilled to unveil the names with Ruby and Emily when the puppies arrived at Guide Dogs WA a few weeks ago.