Rescued Shelter Dog Helps Boy With Autism

Nikita was sick and emaciated when she was rescued from a shelter last year.

Nikita the dog was definitely an animal in need of rescuing. When she arrived at the Delaware County SPCA last year, she was emaciated, neglected and had swallowed a toy that needed to be surgically removed.

But when one of the shelter's veterinarians, Gia Croce, took Nikita home to be cared for after her surgery, she wasn't prepared for just how much the dog would give back to her family, too.

During Nikita's recovery, Croce’s husband, Timothy Bulman, quickly bonded with the dog, and soon they were convinced to adopt her.

"I said 'If she makes it, we have to keep her,'" Bulman said. "And she did make it. It was touch and go for a couple of days but she just got stronger and stronger."

Now, Nikita helps their son Dante, who has autism, to better engage in social situations.

"I believe she's sort of like a healing dog to him because she gives him comfort when he's feeling overwhelmed or frustrated," Croce said.

The family said they feel just as lucky to have found Nikita as she was to find them.

"She's not a therapy dog, she's not highly trained," Bulman said. "She's just a good-natured dog, so we're just very fortunate to have her."

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