Jenny, from Kings Norton, became disabled in 2000. With severely restricted mobility and in constant pain, Jenny went through a grim period where she felt she had little to live for.
Until her life was changed by Bliss, a Canine Partners companion assistance dog.
Here, Jenny writes about how her partnership with Bliss has transformed her life:
It’s 9am and a cold wet nose is pressed up against mine letting me know it’s time to get up. As I open my eyes she greets me with a wagging tail and lots of sloppy kisses – which on a day that I am not feeling my best gives me the motivation to get up, as I know my day ahead will be full of laughter and adventure with her.
You see this wet nose belongs to my beautiful canine partner Bliss, who has literally transformed my life since I have been in a wheelchair living with disabilities. My name is Jenny and in 2000 I was admitted for an emergency operation which ended in complications so I was left with a condition called Adhesion Related Disorder. I later developed fibromyalgia. Combined, these both give me mobility problems, chronic fatigue and I am in constant pain.
Life before Bliss was very grim and I didn’t feel like I had any future: I felt I was a drain on my family and was worth nothing as the conditions had stolen my career, ambitions and also who I was as a person. So, depression kicked in and I simply no longer wanted to carry on.
Then my ‘blonde bombshell’ entered my life and simply made me want to live again!
Bliss was trained to help me by national charity Canine Partners.
So each day Bliss will help me get dressed & ready to tackle the day. She will hear the post drop through the letterbox then run to fetch it for me – one by one, of course, so she gets a little treat each time!
Then off we go to the shops, where Bliss will pick items up off lower shelves, ending with her favourite task where she takes my purse, jumps up the counter to hand to the cashier, waiting tail wagging to bring it back to mommy.
Come night time when I’m settled for the night, Bliss is on hand to fetch me a blanket or phone. Then when darkness draws in she will turn the lights off with her nose, all with a wag in a tail and doggy grin on her face.
Life isn’t all about helping me. One of the best times of the day for us both is going to the park for a good run, lots of sniffing and playing fetch, ending with her happy gambol down the hill which puts a big grin on my face.
Bliss has given me the chance to look at life in a new way. I no longer feel useless, as I know Bliss will always need me to meet her needs, as she does mine.
When my marriage broke down she was the driving force for me to pick myself up and start a new journey.
I have mapped out new adventures and paths in my life that I never would have gone down had it not been for Bliss. One of these new paths is becoming an Education Ambassador for Canine Partners which takes us to schools and children’s groups to tell children all about the wonderful work of the charity.
Canine Partners is a registered charity that assists people with disabilities to enjoy a greater independence and quality of life through the provision of specially trained dogs. Since their inception 25 years ago the Charity has provided more than 530 trained dogs to help disabled people.
Canine Partners receives no government funding and relies solely on public donations. More than 1.2 million people in the UK use a wheelchair, and a significant number of those would benefit from a canine partner. The dogs are trained to help with everyday tasks such as opening and shutting doors, unloading the washing machine, picking up dropped items, pressing buttons and switches and getting help in an emergency.
The Charity aims to train dogs to meet the needs of people with even the most complex disabilities including members of HM Armed Forces and is working closely with the Forces charity Help for Heroes who have funded several partnerships of injured ex-servicemen and women with canine partners.
These life transforming dogs also provide psychological and social benefits including increased independence, confidence and self-esteem.
A canine partner also brings companionship, a sense of security and increases social interaction.
Many thanks to Jenny for sharing her experience.
To find out more about Canine Partners, call 08456 580480 or visit www.caninepartners.org.uk