Josh takes the lead for Lachy’s special dog

Menslink mentor Josh Turk and his teenage charge Lachy Kelly who was born with an unnamed severe congenital heart defect. Photo by Danielle Nohra

AS a teenager, Menslink helped Josh Turk through, what he calls, “your not-so-typical teenage issues”, so later on in life it was fitting he took on a role as mentor to give someone the help he once had.

Initially Josh, 29, of Casey, wasn’t sure what to expect from his mentor role, but over the last couple of years he’s formed a genuine relationship with 15-year-old Lachy Kelly, of Weston Creek.

Like Josh, Lachy faces daily “not-so-typical teenage issues” after he was born with an unnamed severe congenital heart defect but that doesn’t stop the two, who even catch up outside of Menslink events, to play Xbox, cook pizzas, go to the movies or, mostly, talk (over phone calls though, Lachy is a terrible texter, says Josh).

While Josh loves hanging with Lachy, there’s something much bigger he wants to help him with, so he’s started a “GoFundMe” page to raise money to get him a medical alert service dog.

Lachy’s heart beats three times faster than normal, so on a typical day he can’t play contact sport, can get tired just from sitting, deals with lower-back pain from surgeries and, worst of all, risks experiencing a “medical crisis”.

“We are raising money for Lachy to get a medical alert service dog to provide a combination of physical tasks and emotional support services,” Josh says.

Specifically, the fundraising will go towards buying a service dog (which will likely be an Aussie Shepherd), its training, pet insurance and general upkeep.

To cover the costs Josh is asking for $8000 in donations, with the “GoFundMe” page already close to $3000.

Lachy’s mum and primary carer, Lisa Kelly, says she is overwhelmed with the support.

“Even though I have a strong mother instinct, this dog will give that extra support if something happens and his heart stops working,” she says.

Lachy’s younger sister, Sophie, 13, who has been a registered young carer for him since she was nine, would love to see her brother have a service dog to look after him and keep him company.

“The impact on his mother and sister would be massive,” Josh says.

“They would be able to feel like Lachy is in safe hands when not with them, it also enables them to get some more independence as they have been his primary carers since he was born.”

Josh, who works full-time at Defence Housing Australia, is studying a Masters of Business and has a young baby, also can’t always be there for Lachy and says a medical alert service dog is so important for his current age.

“He is entering manhood and having the dog would ensure that if a critical issue is about to happen with his heart, he is in a position to act and save his life,” he says.

“There is also an inherent companionship that comes with having a dog and it’s something that he would greatly benefit from, too.

“Lachy’s condition is very sensitive. The sooner we can raise enough funds to secure Lachy a service dog the better.

“A medical alert service dog will have the ability to assist with monitoring him from a cardiac point of view, by sensing if Lachy is in a medical crisis both before it occurs and before Lachy is aware that such a crisis is imminent.

“The service dog can also be trained to seek out other individuals when Lachy is experiencing a medical crisis.”

Donations to gofundme.com/servicedogforlachy

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