When Support Dogs spotted Duffy on Preloved they knew she was a special dog. The national assistance dog charity trains assistance dogs for children and adults affected by autism, epilepsy and disability. The charity does not have its own breeding programme and often goes talent spotting in rescues centre, and of course on Preloved, to find special dogs and give them a chance fulfil their potential and help transform someone’s life.
It can take up to two years to train a support dog and it was during her training that Support Dog Duffy grabbed the attention of the world. She was trained by the charity to use the world’s first dog operated washing machine. Jointly developed by the charity, the Woof for Wash machine operates on a dog’s bark and grabbed international media attention and was shown in papers and TV across the world. But when the cameras went Duffy continued her training and proved that she was much more that a TV star.
She was trained as a Disability Assistance Dog for Liz in South Wales. Liz has a severe form of arthritis as well as an extremely rare condition, where her body produces over 50 times more insulin than is needed. This can result in extreme tiredness, bouts of severe sickness and pain, panic and falls, making everyday life exceptionally difficult. The three-year-old golden Labrador helps Liz with a wide variety tasks that enables her to manage day to day life independently. Liz explains what life is like with her support dog, Duffy.
Liz and Duffy
As well as being able to pick up items that I drop, which happens a lot due to my condition, and fetching items such as the phone, she helps me to dress and undress and even load and empty the washing machine. My condition often leaves me very weak with little energy and so these simple tasks can be impossible for me without help. If I get very sick and need medication urgently but physically unable to get it, Duffy will fetch my medicine bag.
If I am out on my own and fall or feel sick, she will bark for help. This has a huge impact on my confidence and helps me to go out and be active and be much more independent. I know I am safe and if I become ill, which can happen very quickly, Duffy will be there to get the help I need. She is also a signal to people to show that my illness is genuine. When I become ill and disorientated, to some people it may appear that I am drunk. Duffy is a signal to others that I have a genuine disability.
More to all of this, when my condition is hurting and life is particularly hard, Duffy is always there by my side giving the love and support I need to keep going. She is more than a clever dog, for me she is the key to life.
What Do Support Dogs Do
Support Dogs trains specialist assistance dogs for children and adults affected by autism, epilepsy and physical disability. They are funded 100% by voluntary donations. To find out more about this fantastic charity and the training they do, please visit.www.supportdogs.org.uk
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