Girl with Autism in England Loses Best Friend

Losing something, or someone, you love is a painful experience for everybody, no matter who or how old you are. Recently, I read about a little boy flying somewhere with his family and he accidentally left his teddy bear on the plane. He cried about it for a long time and his family tried everything they could to recover the toy. When that failed, the airline did something amazing. They got another bear and shot a series of photos of it doing various things for the airline and gave it to the boy. The boy was very happy to have a bear back in his life. Having a number of bears myself, I don’t know how I’d handle it if I lost one of them. This story from England, though, doesn’t have a happy ending.

Chloe Hopkins, a 12-year old girl with autism from Peatling Parva, Leicestershire, was devastated when her therapy dog, a three-year-old Dalmatian named Lottie, was stolen from her home on December 1. Her mother, Gemma, says the dog was her daughter’s “best friend” who helped keep her calm; the two are inseparable and Lottie helps Chloe get through the day by being there to come home to. Lottie could tell when Chloe would have an anxiety attack and sit with her; she was her coping mechanism. She believes the dog could have been targeted by thieves using a drone to plan the burglary. Lottie was last seen in the early hours on that Sunday morning when Mrs. Hopkins went downstairs to feed her newborn baby and noticed a bolt on their outhouse was broken.

Gemma said she had problems getting Chloe to go to school after that, breaking down into tears in the foyer of their house. She says due to Chloe’s autism, she doesn’t understand any of this and thinks she was taken because somebody hates her and there was nothing she could do as a parent to stop Chloe’s pain. A few days later, she saw a drone flying over her house and now suspects that it may be connected to the burglary. She suspects the dog was deliberately targeted as Lottie is a rare breed and nothing else was taken from their home.

After Lottie’s disappearance, the family offered a reward for her safe return and a plea to find her was shared on social media. Even TV presenter Chris Packham, who has Asperger’s Syndrome himself, also made an appeal. That Christmas, all Chloe wanted was for her to come back. Worse was her birthday was on Christmas Eve. She didn’t even want to put up the tree that year; she was completely heartbroken. I can’t imagine a worst Christmas or birthday to look back on than that. They lost more than a pet, they lost a member of their family.

On March 8, the family was given the news that Lottie was found dead after a vet scanned her microchip. The Leicestershire Police said Lottie was found in a layby in Countesthorpe, about four miles away from the family’s home. Gemma wrote on Facebook that having to identify Lottie was the hardest thing she ever did and had to break Chloe’s heart that same night. They were hopeful she would be returned safely, but got the ending they never wanted. I can’t imagine how Chloe must be feeling right now, but I’m sure it’s not good. Since the news was shared, hundreds have shared their condolences with the family on social media; I think I want to go on that website and share mine. Even though I have a serious dog allergy and can barely handle being in the same room with one, I know how much Lottie meant to Chloe from following their story and I can’t imagine something more painful for her to go through.

Leicestershire Police said they were continuing to investigate the theft and ask anyone with information to get in touch with them. I may not contribute in that respect, but I guess the best I can do is share this story with the blog and its readers.

This is a time when most of the news is bad, but each day news programs are reporting on small kind acts which people are doing, and I will write more about those. Today’s kind act you do might be to wish Chloe well from our country, and from our hearts – to her broken one.