Cutest couple get matching dresses for good paws

17 Mar

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By Emily Selleck, Bond University Journalism Student

Gold Coast teen Erin Condrin had the hairiest date at the dance when she co-ordinated senior formal outfits with her assistance dog Lacey.

“Being a young disabled person can be daunting, but facing the world with an adorable fluffball by my side makes it so much easier,” Erin said.

“It was only natural she [Lacey] would have a dress that matched mine. We asked my very talented dressmaker if she’d sew Lacey a skirt out of the left over material from my dress, and she was all for it.”

Erin suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a tissue disorder which causes her joints to dislocate up to 20 times a day and makes tasks like writing and tying shoelaces extremely painful.

“Disabilities don’t stop for special occasions,” she said.

“To make the night possible, we designed a dress from scratch to suit a wheelchair, hired a ramp to take to the venue and organised medications for the event,” Erin said.

Now three years old, Lacey, who has a Facebook page with almost 1500 likes, was gifted to the teen by non-profit organisation Canine Helpers Australia, who rely solely on donations.

“Lacey and I have only been a team for a few months but she’s made me more independent and had a really positive impact during hospital stays and rest periods. I know I always have someone by my side,” she said.

Erin’s peers were thrilled to see her enjoying the big night and even hitting the dance floor, according to fellow Year 12 student Isabella Moore.

“Erin’s spirit is unwavering despite all the obstacles she continues to face. She works just as hard in class, if not harder than the rest of us, so it was great to her simply enjoying herself throughout the night,” Isabella said.

Since posting a photo on Facebook of the matching duo, Erin’s story has been shared by thousands including Sunrise, The Today Show, Buzzfeed and Mashable.

“It’s strange knowing that so many people have read our story,” she said.

“I’m very grateful for the awareness about Ehlers-Danlos and assistance dogs.

“Without generous donations to Lacey’s trainers, Canine Helpers, none of this would have been possible.

“I also think it’s important that this kind of publicity reminds people that while Lacey is adorable, when she is out in public she is working and cannot be distracted or patted.”

You can donate to Canine Helpers at http://www.caninehelpers.org.au.

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