Here's another Crufts story. Alan Checkley and his Support Dog, Fudge, will be at Crufts on Friday 6th March. Support Dogs is a founder member of Assistance Dogs UK and also a full voting member of Assistance Dogs International, an organisation that represents assistance dog training programmes around the world. Every year Support Dogs receives in excess of fifty applications for dogs from each of its programmes, which means that there is currently a two-year waiting list. Without secure and regular funding the wait may be even longer and demand for dogs continues to increase every year.
Judging from the asistance dogs I've met, they manage to perform amazing tasks for their person, while still staying very much a dog. They live fabulous live, being valued by their owner, having comfort and the best of health care, and best of all from a dog's point of view, they have plenty to do. Dogs love having a job to do; a life of merely chilling on the couch drives them to distractiona and leaves them with the energy to be naughty. Alan's story is below:
Life is sweeter with Fudge
A disabled man from Burnt Wood, Lichfield, has been given a new lease of life with an assistance dog from Support Dogs.
Alan Checkley has been seriously disabled and wheelchair bound for 15 years since he survived a serious accident. Alan’s first assistance dog, Megan, retired last year aged 13 and although she still lives with Alan and his wife Shelley, he needed another furry guardian to follow in her pawsteps.
Three-year-old Fudge is an English Springer Spaniel chosen and trained by the charity Support Dogs specifically for Alan’s needs. Fudge became a fully-fledged assistance dog last November and soon settled into his new role with Alan.
Fudge can pick up anything that Alan needs and acts as an excellent icebreaker when Alan is at work.
Alan is a project assistant for ICT Projects in the local community and Fudge gives him the independence and confidence he needs to be able to work. In fact, since being partnered with Fudge, Alan has noticed that his confidence and faith in life in general has increased dramatically, enabling him to turn a corner and start enjoying the world.
Support Dogs’ Disability Assistance Dogs are taught tasks tailored to their owner’s needs. By teaching dogs to assist and support their disabled owners with their day-to-day tasks they find they begin to lead fuller and more independent lives.
To date the charity has trained over 150 dogs and now supports more than 60 partnerships across the UK. Each assistance dog costs around £10,000 to train and care for throughout its working life and the charity relies solely on donations to continue its work.