TWO STORIES THAT HAVE INSPIRED AND MOTIVATED US
I want to tell you as bit more about why there is a Dogs for the Disabled and why we feel there is a need for this type of service.
NOELLE and Assistance Dog AMY
I want to bring you back to one our first few clients. One being a young lady in her 20s. When I initially assessed her, I said: Great, I know exactly what you need. (one of our task assistance dogs).
She was a wheelchair user and needed a dog to open doors, turn on and off lights, send for help, pick up things that she dropped. This young lady’s name was Noelle and she was full of personality, vigour and just wanted to get on with things. So off I went and it was 6 months later before I visited Noelle again.
During this visit I discovered that Noelle had a really bad fall out of her wheelchair, shortly after our previous visit and she had not been outside the house since!
I had arrived in with Amy, a golden retriever, full of fun and go and then to discover that Noelle had not left the house in about 6 months was very worrying and I said to Noelle: “You know, Noelle, I cannot leave Amy with you unless you get out of bed”.
The first few times Noelle left her room and then her apartment with Amy, Noelle shook the entire time due the sheer fear of falling out of her wheelchair again. But, she stuck with it and slowly but surely her confidence improved.
Noelle went from a girl who didn’t go out, in her 20s, to a girl who didn’t stay in. She went everywhere. We got her back driving, going to the shops and getting out meeting people. Living life again. Noelle went EVERYWHERE with Amy in later years. Amy would press the button at traffic lights, open and close doors, send for help. She would do anything that Noelle needed.
The two of them together were able to take on the world and this really motivated and inspired me to keep going with all this work! Seeing the improvement to Noelle’s life really showed me the potential this kind of service had and has driven me and all of us at Dogs for the Disabled to keep breeding and training the best assistance dogs we can.
ORLA and Assistance Dog ALICE (Amy’s sister)
The next story I want to tell you about is that of a young girl called Orla and a dog called Alice. Alice was a golden retriever and Amy’s sister. She was really the most laid back dog. She was the first golden retriever I’ve ever meet who refused to pick up anything (she wouldn’t retrieve). So, I was looking for a purpose for Alice and then I met Orla!
Alice became our VERY FIRST STABILITY DOG and the start of our Stability Assistance Dog Programme. When Orla came in for training with Alice, it was very very hard. I was shocked as to how many times Orla fell. She fell every 20-30 feet! And I kept thinking, oh my god, how is this going to work!
And, Orla would get back on her feet again and she’d walk a bit more and she’d fall again. And then she’d get back up and she’d fall again and she’d get back up and she’d fall again and she’d get back up! BUT, within 6 months of training, Orla was able to walk flights of stairs with Alice!!
She was the very first of our clients to take their dog to school. And, this experience with Orla and Alice TRANSFORMED our whole concept for our STABILITY DOG PROGRAMME.
So, thank you Orla and thank you Noelle!