Meet Cashel, an autism assistance dog who supports actor and musician Leo Long.

Leo stands confidently looking ahead outside the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, wearing a short sleeved shirt, with autism assistance dog Cashel on a lead.
Cashel goes everywhere with Leo – here they are at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. (Photo: James Long)
A still from a video of Leo Long at 17 years old cuddling Cashel when he was a puppy at their first meeting.
Cashel was affectionate with Leo on their very first meeting, when he was a tiny puppy. (Photo: James Long)

Cashel, a cavapoo, was originally trained during the pandemic, to support Leo as a student attending sixth form college.

Leo Long walking through woodland with assistance dog Cashel, Leo wearing an orange gillet, looking down at Cashel, with trainer behind
Cashel and Leo training during the pandemic, under the watchful eye of Dogs for Autism’s Hilary Armour (Photo: James Long)

Three years on, Cashel’s working life has transformed. With lockdown a distant memory, Leo’s acting career has taken off. He landed a starring role as a gifted young autistic drummer in the feel good Netflix hit, “I used to be Famous” as well as in an ITV4 series.

Cashel shared Leo’s trailer while visiting his last film set and was a comforting presence in the stage wings in the autumn, when Leo was performing in Much Ado About Nothing on the London stage.

James Long holds his son's  assistance dog Cashel in the stage wings standing on red and orange geometric carpet in front of large screen featuring Leo Long on stage.
Cashel waits patiently in the wings with Leo’s dad, James, during a performance of Much Ado… in London (Photo: Yumi Long)

In this interview, recorded just before Christmas, presenter Kate Fairweather hears about how Cashel came into Leo’s life, their developing partnership and how he supports Leo day to day.

Leo Long stands to the left of a Christmas tree, smiling and holding assistance dog Cashel to his chest.
Cashel at home in December 2022 with his owner, actor and musician Leo Long

The second player above is an update, recorded in January 2023, a month after the first. It features a development planning conversation between Leo, his parents and the charity Dogs for Autism, who have kindly shared it as an insight into the level of care and thought that support a successful autism assistance dog relationship.  

We’ve featured an autism assistance dog previously on Dogs with Jobs, through an interview with its trainer and mother of its autistic partner. So it’s great to hear first hand from Leo about his lived experience with Cashel, and the difference an autism assistance dog makes to his life.

Cashel was trained and placed with Leo by the charity Dogs for Autism.

Find out more about autism assistance dogs

Hear an Interview from October 2021 with Dogs for Autism CEO, Hilary Armour talking about the charity’s work

Meet Daisy, another autism assistance dog with a very different working life.

Do you work your dog or dogs?

Kate loves to meet all and any working dogs – and is particularly keen to meet some sniffer dogs! Get in touch via team@shinereadio.uk or call and leave a message on 01730 555 500.