Loving service dog supports boy, even in the hospital

Mahe, a service dog, stayed by his side in a hospital bed during the 9-year-old boy's visit.

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The boy, James Isaac, has autism and he does not speak.

"James has profound autism, so he gets quite anxious when we go on outings," mother Michelle Isaac told "Today" on Tuesday. "He's very impulsive and he doesn't have any awareness of danger."

Isaac said it can be stressful when James is in an area that is unsafe, like near traffic.

When the family got Mahe, a black Labrador assistance dog 2 1/2 years ago, James got more independence.

The dog was trained for six months by the Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust.

"Mahe has changed our lives so much. He is a real part of the family now," Michelle said. "The main thing he does is help to keep James safe and calm when he's out."

When James had a series of unexplained seizures, Michelle took her son and Mahe to the hospital.

Doctors wanted to bring her son in for an MRI.

James had to be put under general anesthesia. Otherwise, he would not have stayed still for the test.

Three-year-old Mahe was able to lay in the hospital bed with James for a bit just before the MRI.

"He got his face really close to James, who was asleep by that point, and he reached in to sniff him," Isaac said. "He looked really concerned. It was quite touching."

After the test, Mahe joined James on the hospital bed and was there when he came out from anesthesia.

"Having him on the bed was really a calming thing for James," Isaac said. "He had his buddy there, and felt a bit more secure and less anxious."

Wendy Isaacs, the trust's funding development manager, told New Zealand's Stuff Thursday that Mahe's calm demeanor is what made him perfect for James.

Isaac thinks he's a great fit for her son.

"Before Mahe, when it was just one of us with James, we'd have to hold his hand tightly to stop him from running from the road, and James hates that," Isaac said. "He doesn't like being manhandled. He just wants his freedom. Mahe gives him that freedom to explore his environment without being dragged around."

We spoke to James’ mother about the pup who’s changed their lives.

Posted by Today Show on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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