DALLAS - Experts say you can teach a dog to do just about anything with repetition and positive reinforcement, and one North Texas family found that to be true.
They rescued a dog from an uncertain future, who in turn rescued their son from sleepless nights.
Dawn McMullan's son once had trouble sleeping. He would turn fearful once the lights went out. Rather than sweet dreams, the then 9-year-old boy would have nightmares plagued with zombies.
"We had the lights on, his brother slept with him a little while, all the logical steps a parent would take," McMullan said.
The solution to chase away those zombies came with four legs and a wagging tail. A dog no one wanted became the answer to young Sawyer's sleep deprivation.
"He said a dog big enough to scare off zombies," his mother said of what he thought might curb his fears.
Malcolm, the dog the McMullan family eventually adopted, was skinny and skittish with no home to call his own.
The family adopted Malcolm and sought help from Good Dog Fetch, a company that offers training classes for children and dogs. The company trains only with positive reinforcement.
"Always have an upbeat voice, never command him or say like 'bad dog' and stuff, always be positive," Sawyer said.
"When you are having fun, and your dog is doing something that you are asking them to do, and you succeed, you gain a lot more confidence," said Robin Terrell, Good Dog Fetch. "They both had much more confidence with each other."
Confidence was enough to chase away the zombies, and created a lasting bond between the young boy and his dog.
"He sleeps in my bed," Sawyer said. "He thinks it's his bed. I sleep like 10 times better with Malcolm there."
"The zombies are all gone," mom said. "He totally has done his job."