Like any little boy, Baxter Bremner shares an unbreakable bond with his pet Labrador Pepper.
But unlike most children, Baxter, who is autistic, relies on his dog, not just for company, but to keep him safe and calm.
The eight-year-old is hyper-sensitive to everyday life, with colours, movement and loud noises all triggering severe anxiety which often leads to an uncontrollable and violent meltdown.
Even someone unexpectedly brushing past him can be too much for the Spey Bay youngster, as it feels as if they are trying to push him over.
But since being introduced to 22-month-old Pepper, life for Baxter and his family has changed for the better – and it is hoped once she is fully trained she will be able to accompany him at school.
The clever canine, who already knows more than 40 commands, helps him to go outside, go to sleep, relaxes him when he becomes agitated, and is trained to lead him away from situations or environments he finds overwhelming.
Proud mother Jo, 41, who is training the pup with husband Kevin, 37, said: “Having Pepper has made a massive difference. She makes it possible for Baxter to go out by keeping him grounded and in control.
“She’s just amazing and is learning new ways to help Baxter every day.”
Pepper performs deep pressure therapy, where she will rest her head on Baxter’s body to relax him, or gently nudge his hand to distract him from his fears and encourage him to stroke her.
Her latest trick is practising to “block”, where she stands in front of Baxter to stop him running on to the road.
Pepper is so in-tune with Baxter’s feelings, she can even sense when he is getting worked up before anyone else.
Baxter and Pepper, who wears a special jacket identifying her as an autism assistance dog when she is out and about, are now organising a virtual dog show to raise money for a charity which provided him with sensory equipment, including a vibrating heat mat and a liquid gel floor tile.
Baxter said: “Pepper is my best friend. My favourite thing to do with her is play hide and seek. I love her.”