Canine Partners is a national charity that trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities. The dogs help with everyday tasks including opening doors, undressing, fetching help and retrieving dropped items.
Jess and Theo’s story:
“I have severe ME and am fully deaf. I was always poorly as a child but it all got worse when I was 11. It took me a long time to accept that I needed to use a wheelchair full-time but once I did I found it much easier to participate in life. However, I went straight from being a child to being ill and missed out on the process of growing more independent and self-sufficient.
Having canine partner Theo has allowed me to begin the process of growing up and gaining independence. Before I got Theo I didn’t go out without an adult. I was home alone a lot of the time – if I dropped the remote I was stuck on that channel until someone arrived. I didn’t do much other than schoolwork and watch TV.
Now I volunteer at a school, help at Brownies and am studying Latin and British Sign Language at home. I can also go out when I want to, go shopping, go out for lunch, go out with friends, and help more around the house. Theo would probably prefer it if I did less shopping, more lunching!
Theo has enabled me to become an adult. He has enriched my life and helped me to experience so many things. The name Theo means ‘Gift from God’ and that is truly what he is. He handles whatever situation I put him in and I know that wherever I go and whatever I do he will be there through it all. With Theo by my side I can do anything and go anywhere. He opens doors to my independence – sometimes quite literally!
Thank you doesn’t begin to cover how grateful I am for the wondrous gift that Theo is – for giving me freedom, independence and a brighter future – but it is a start.”
(Jess was partnered with Theo in December 2011.)
Canine Partners received £250 from DM Thomas Foundation in 2015.