Therapy dog helps 4-year-old show emotion for first time

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Her family said it was love at first sight. A young New Mexico girl with autism has a new four-legged friend and their bond is something very special.

“I’m going to cry,” said the girl’s mom Ivy Salazar. “I can’t even explain how it happened.”

Salazar said her 4-year-old daughter, Jamie, immediately fell in love with a pitbull at Animal Humane named Malcolm.

“My heart just melted because to see that she was able to open up that quickly to him I knew there was an instant bond between them,” she said.

Jamie is autistic. She doesn’t communicate with words, only with a few signs. She is also easily frightened in new situations.

Her family has been searching for a therapy dog to help improve her communication skills for years, after their first pup was stolen.

“She would not accept any new animals,” said Salazar.

Until now. This week, the Salazars found Malcolm. Jamie and him hit if off immediately, something her mom said is extremely unusual.

“It will take her a few hours at the least to warm up to any kind of pet. She doesn’t like the touch, the feel, the smell anything at all,” she said.

However, Malcolm was different. Jamie not only pet the dog, but she laughed while she did it. Her mom said it was one of the first times her daughter showed emotion.

“They just apparently had to have been meant for each other,” said Salazar.

She said the two are now inseparable, a unique bond she said can’t be explained. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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