09:00 - 16 October 2002
Western Morning News
Disabled people in the West country yesterday celebrated the work done by dogs to transform their lives.
Dogs for the Disabled is a charity that unites people in need with specially trained dogs that can open and close doors, pick up dropped items and help them get dressed and undressed. The dogs' duties can even include taking laundry out of the washing machine.
The charity yesterday held an event at the Matford Centre, Exeter, for the dogs, their users, volunteers and businesses that had supported its work in the South West. The Celebrating Partnerships day will now become an annual event.
Fifty people attended the ceremony, including ten dog users, who each received a certificate. The charity's "puppy socialisers," who look after the dogs for 12 months in a home environment to teach them social skills.
Clients with dogs include Multiple Sclerosis and cerebral palsy sufferers, as well as people confined to wheelchairs because of car accidents.
Sarah Watson, communications officer for the charity, said: "We train the dogs to help people live a more independent life. They can help people get out more - and having a dog means they don't always have to ask if they need something done.
"Having a dog can open up their lives so much. It can help with getting to meet new people because when you are in a wheelchair people often do not know how to react.
"The dog breaks down the barriers - people want to know where the dog comes from, what it does and so on."
Dogs for the Disabled, which is based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, was formed
15 years ago, and now has almost 350 clients around the country. Every
year over 30 more people are placed with dogs.
© Copyright 2002, Western Morning News