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Family Heartbroken After Support Dog for Boy with Autism Suddenly Goes Missing

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Seven-year-old Matthew Patton of Calgary, Canada, has autism, but he has found much solace in his 7-month-old golden retriever, Tonka.

Seeing how difficult it was for Matthew, who is nonverbal, to make friends, grandma Angel Wheeler stepped in with the perfect plan.

“I got Matthew the dog for Christmas because Matthew needs a buddy that is going to grow up and learn with Matthew,” Angel said, according to Global News. “He’s a very loving, gentle puppy.”

The family has seen a major improvement in Matthew, and Tonka quickly became an essential part of the family.


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“If Matthew’s having a bad day, you just get Tonka in there and Matthew calms right down,” Angel said. “It just made us all happy that he had somebody to go to.”

“He does not speak, and he doesn’t like to interact with a lot of humans,” Matthew’s mother, Kayla Wheeler, confirmed.

But on Saturday, Matthew lost his closest companion when the pup disappeared.

“My gates were closed, and he just disappeared,” Kayla said. “I think someone came into my yard and grabbed him.”

Not an unlikely theory, given that the dog is young and a popular breed. The family has posted signs of the missing dog in their area as well as on online.

“Hi I lost my sons sweet loving puppy he is 7 months old he goes by Tonka he got lost in the Monterey Park area Calgary If found can you please call me thank you,” Kayla shared in the Alberta Missing Dogs Facebook group.

Many people eager to help have responded with information for found dogs that resemble Tonka, but none have been him.

In the meantime, Angel and Kayla are seeing the toll the loss is taking on Matthew.


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“Matthew’s a little boy that doesn’t ask for much,” Angel told Global News. “This puppy means so much to him. When you see how sad he is because his puppy’s not there, it just breaks my heart that he doesn’t have that best friend.”

Kayla is publicly asking that if someone did steal Tonka, please return him.

“Whoever has my puppy, I would like and hope that you guys do the right thing,” she said. “Bring him back to his little boy that misses him very, very much.”

Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she’s strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.

As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn’t really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she’s had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children’s books with her husband, Edward.


Austin, Texas

Languages Spoken

English und ein bißchen Deutsch

Topics of Expertise

Faith, Animals, Cooking

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