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Lottery winners use prize to buy support dog for disabled daughter

Jan 20, 2022, 3:37 pm

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Euro MillionsEuro Millions: Lottery winners use prize to buy support dog for disabled daughterRating:

Golden Labrador Merlin brings "a bit of magic" into their lives

By Kate Northrop

MAIDSTONE, United Kingdom — A couple from the United Kingdom could not think of a better way to spend their lottery winnings than bringing support dog Merlin into their daughter's life.

Golden Labrador Merlin is the greatest gift a family could ask for after winning £1 million (US$1.4 million) in a National Lottery EuroMillions drawing in August 2017.

The timing of their win, they say, made a huge impact on their lives.

"Our lottery win, eight months after Charlotte was born, could not have come at a better time," Amy Pryor said. "The win took a lot of pressure off us and has enabled us to focus on what is most important, Charlotte."

Adam and Amy's daughter was born seven weeks premature with a cleft palate, along with other conditions, including a chromosome 11 abnormality that resulted in developmental challenges and eyesight, hearing, and mobility issues.

Much of Charlotte's early life was spent going on back-and-forth trips to the hospital. At the same time, financial concerns were looming over the family's heads with rising bills and the end of Amy's maternity pay approaching.

Thankfully, the couple struck gold and gained a reprieve when they won £1 million in a EuroMillions draw in August 2017.

A furry support animal would come into the picture almost a year after Amy made a fateful call to Supporting Paws, an organization recommended by one of Charlotte's support workers that trains assistance dogs for a variety of disabilities and needs. Having grown up with dogs and dreaming of one day welcoming one into the family, Amy knew this could be the perfect fit.

Now, Merlin the golden Labrador is well into his training at the Pryor household, part of which includes learning to distinguish Charlotte's hearing aid from a toy.

"Merlin is a dream come true," Amy said. "[He] is still in training, but we can already see the positive impact he is having on Charlotte. He is learning to walk while attached to Charlotte's wheelchair, which in turn is encouraging Charlotte to go out for walks, and I see her looking around for him."

Merlin's homework also includes community access training, which means learning the appropriate behavior to be able to accompany Charlotte wherever she goes, especially to hospital appointments.

"He has a lovely temperament, which has a calming influence, and he already feels like one of the family," Amy related.

Trainers from Supporting Paws evaluate the needs of each client. From there, they can better tailor the training of the dog to suit their lifestyle. The cost of acquiring a service dog from Supporting Paws is generally around £9,000 (US$12,263).

"As a person with autism and a parent of a young person with autism and learning difficulties, I have seen first-hand the difference a support dog can make to a family's life," Charlotte Chaney, from Supporting Paws, said.

"Merlin's training has been tailored to Charlotte and her needs," Chaney added. "For example, unlike most dogs who are trained not to jump up, we've trained Merlin to jump up so that he can engage with Charlotte while she is in her wheelchair. Similarly, we've trained Merlin not to react to noises that Charlotte may make, which for other dogs would be a trigger to alert someone that something is wrong."

Without the lottery winnings, the couple said, Charlotte's life would have looked very different, and owning a pet, let alone a service animal, would have never been within the realm of possibility.

"Our lottery win has enabled us to do so much, from buying a bigger home with space for a specialist sensory room, to Amy giving up work to take care of Charlotte," Adam explained. "But Merlin is by far our favorite purchase."

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10 comments. Last comment 4 months ago by benir4u.
Page 1 of 1
rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
United States
Member #55887
October 23, 2007
13302 Posts

Wow! What a terrific story. It's really nice to see a family in need win such a jackpot that will truly be beneficial for them and Charlotte.



    MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
    Beautiful Florida
    United States
    Member #5709
    July 18, 2004
    26557 Posts

    What an incredible story. These people have their priorities in the right place.

    Wishing them the best.


                                                              “No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth.”
                                                                                                                                  — Plato
      United States
      Member #163182
      January 22, 2015
      2883 Posts

      An automatic thumbs up with nice stories like this involving a dog.   So happy for Charlotte to have Merlin!

        Gallatin Tennesee
        United States
        Member #194096
        November 29, 2018
        159 Posts

        This is without a doubt the most touching and uplifting story I've read since I became a member a few years back. With so many negative things going on in the world and horrible behavior by some lottery winners, it is absolutely breathtaking to read a story like this. The photo is worth a thousand words.Thanks Kate ....I needed that.

        US Flag


          United States
          Member #52343
          May 21, 2007
          3441 Posts

          I wish them many happy years together 

            gellis65's avatar - Alice
            lynchburg, va
            United States
            Member #191126
            July 17, 2018
            97 Posts

            I love stories like these. I am so happy they were able to their daughter's life better.

              TheMeatman2005's avatar - lightening
              Brooklyn, NY
              United States
              Member #169716
              October 29, 2015
              1558 Posts

              Thumbs UpGreat happy story.

              The Meatman 🥩🍗🍔🍖🍤🌭

              “The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.” Will Rogers

              Winning happens in a flash, Like A Bolt Of Lightning!  Patriot

                haymaker's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                Egg Harbor twp.south Jersey shore
                United States
                Member #112963
                June 29, 2011
                4156 Posts

                Yes, let Merlin work his magic !

                Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds    -- Charles Mackay  LL.D.

                  parlayman's avatar - zVkIYGD
                  United States
                  Member #176317
                  July 31, 2016
                  20188 Posts

                  Wonderful article! It made my day. Thanks for that. 


                    benir4u's avatar - be 20you.jpg
                    United States
                    Member #1954
                    July 31, 2003
                    4065 Posts

                    Great story and smart family, taking care of their childs need.