THERE was a slight tension in the air as Chilli's parents watched the $27,000 dog they were paying for interact with their daughter on the weekend.
Chilli, 7, suffers from kleefstra syndrome; she is non verbal and is one of nine in Australia diagnosed with the condition that affects her learning, communication and movement.
The family travelled to the Sunshine Coast to meet Herbie, the service dog in training, to see Chilli's reaction and check their compatibility.
A huge sum of money, for which the family have been fundraising towards for months now, was hanging in the balance.
"Chilli caught a nasty bug so she was mostly frustrated and not feeling very well," mum Kevina Atkinson said.
"But when we all sat down with Herbie, she warmed up to him pretty quickly."
But it became a done deal when the dog trainer was feeding Herbie, as Chilli reached out with a smile on her face towards Herbie.
"It was a good sign, and it gives us hope for when the day comes he is trained and ready to come home to us that we will be able to trust Herbie."
Kevina said she was already shocked at the level of obedience the pup had.
"The trainer put treats on his paws, and the whole time Herbie kept his eyes on the trainer waiting for the go ahead.
"He is still a cute, playful puppy but that was really good to see."
When Herbie comes to Gladstone, he will have a leash connecting him to Chilli at all times, as well as parents Kevina and Shane when out and about or moving around.
"They will be training Herbie specifically to Chilli's needs," Kevina said.
"She is a water bug and loves the pool, so Herbie will be trained to sit by the pool and watch, and if anything was to happen, would alert us. But we would be there anyway.
"Herbie will be trained to sense one of Chilli's meltdowns happen at least an hour before she has it. He will also be able to distract her from her many habits, like if she is trying to put something in her mouth."
The family has raised $14,000 of their $27,000 goal so far.
To help close the gap, type in Chilli Morgan's name on the Go Fund Me website.
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