COMPANION dog Caleb is becoming a key protector for four-year-old East Devonport boy Bryce Gibson.
Bryce has autism, is vision-impaired and has severe developmental issues.
Caleb, a 15-month-old labrador, was trained as a guide dog in Victoria but failed to pass the tests.
He will now be a protective ally for Bryce.
Caleb came into Bryce's life after the City of Devonport Lions Club heard about his situation and raised more than $1000 to buy the dog and bring him to Tasmania.
Bryce's parents John and Louise Gibson had decided to buy a specially trained companion dog to protect their first-born child's safety.
``Bryce is very adventurous and he tries to get out of the house,'' Mrs Gibson said.
``We don't want to be that family that you see headlining the news where an autistic child has walked out on to the middle of the road and is found dead.
``Every time we heard a story like that it was like a knife to the heart.''
Mrs Gibson said the family researched companion dogs and discovered that they would cost more than $40,000.
She said they discovered a cheaper alternative in Guide Dogs Australia.
City of Devonport Lions Club president James McLagan said the organisation decided to step in and help.
``If it hadn't have been for the Lions club, we wouldn't have got this dog for some time. We are forever in debt to them,'' Mrs Gibson said.
``Caleb brings us so much joy every day and we have seen a significant change in Bryce already.''
Mrs Gibson said Caleb could open and close doors and pick up dropped or other needed items.
She said if Bryce had a seizure, became lost or was in any danger, Caleb would use his ``emergency bark''.