Hi all FB & Blog friends…
here is another extract from the recent SA Guide dogs newsletter
which I hope you find stimulating and interesting.
In October 2010 I embarked on a life-changing journey, which led me
to meet my future husband; leave a 20-year-long corporate
lifestyle, and most recently, become a Puppy Raiser.
Phil injured his spinal cord diving into the sea 20 years ago. He
is paralysed from the chest down and uses a wheelchair to move
On that eventful trip in 2010, he was riding a modified quadbike in
a fundraising event for quadriplegics and paraplegics, called Quads
4 Quads. I was in the backup team for my paraplegic
sister-in-law. Phil and I met at the finish line, covered in 1
000km worth of dust from 4 days of hot and challenging riding.
It truly was love at first sight, (in spite of having a really
bad hair day!). We were engaged 4 months later, and married
within the next year.
In 2012, Phil applied for a Service Dog from S A Guide-Dogs
Association for the Blind (GDA), and in April 2014, we were
blessed with our beautiful, soulful boy, Jock.
The impact he had on our lives was so unexpected. The gift of
Mobility, Independence and Companionship is what S A
Guide-Dogs offers with these amazing dogs, and seeing how
Jock enhances Phil’s ability to get by on his own is heartwarming.
Jock mostly retrieves things (such as Phil’s cellphone,
remote control, water bottle) which have been dropped or are out
of reach; opens and closes doors; and accompanies Phil in
public places, which helps Phil to feel more secure.
I am less anxious knowing Phil has gone to the mall alone when he
is with Jock, or leaving them to have a coffee while Im having
my hair done. But probably the most important, and
surprising, element is the companionship many wheelchair users
often comment they aren’t touched very much. Some people are
unsure of how to approach or physically engage with someone in
a wheelchair. Jock has a “my lap” command where he puts his
front legs and body on Phil’s lap and goes in for a hug. He often
needs to be encouraged to get off, because he would sit on Phil’s
lap if he was small enough (hes a 35kg Labrador!) and would love
to cuddle all day. Being the gorgeous boy that he is, Jock
attracts a huge amount of attention (mostly from the girls!),
and Phil is often stopped and asked about Jock, thereby opening up
a conversation that previously might not have occurred.
I’ve seen Phils confidence and willingness to try new things grow
exponentially in the time that weve had Jock in our lives. The
day Phil went for a long walk alone along the winding paths in
our extensive garden, with only Jock as his company, I knew that
I could relax and enjoy our home. If Phil has an issue like
falling out of his chair, or getting stuck on a rocky section,
he can get Jock to fetch me to get help, or to speak (bark),
and I would know Phil needs assistance. In the past, I would need
to hover close to Phil, which meant he really didn’t enjoy himself
as much, or he just wouldn’t go out at all.
We are so grateful for what Jock has done for us, and in order
to give a little something back, we decided I would volunteer as
a Puppy Raiser. Being with Phil has given me the opportunity
to take a sabbatical from corporate work life, and this was
the perfect opportunity to make a difference.
I have raised Olaf (black Labrador Retriever 15 months old) who
is currently in training, and Cooper (Golden Retriever 5
months old) who is still being socialised and chewing my shoes!
Please click on the link below to make an online donation.
Click to Donate
If you prefer to donate via EFT SAGA’s banking details are as
S A Guide-Dogs Association
Nedbank Branch 198765
Acc no 1522034498
Ref: Donor Number / Name
Thank you for your consideration in assisting GDA to provide
Guide, Service and Autism Support Dogs, as well as training
practitioners to assist people who are vision impaired with skills
of daily living.
Please contact Juliette Powell on +27 11 705 3512 or
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