My Cockapoo Amber has helped me to stay positive through the toughest times of my life. She came into our family when I was 16 and first started experiencing symptoms of my illness. She was only eight weeks old and quickly became my best friend, as I had to leave school and my life as I knew it began to fall apart.
It was almost two years later I was diagnosed with a life-limiting illness that left me housebound, in constant pain and extremely weak. At my lowest, Amber was the only thing that kept me going and the only thing that would make me smile. Whenever I got upset she would lick my tears away and stay by my side and when I was really unwell, she would scratch and cry at my door or do whatever she could to be with me. She was a constant source of comfort and made me feel so safe and less lonely.
She would lick away my tears
When nurses would come to visit me at home, they would always comment that Amber was always so close to me but she also instinctively knew when she needed to give me and the nurses space (although she was never too far away). They would often tell me that they’d always say they we’re going to see ‘Ellie and Amber’ because she never left my side. I’d spend months in hospital, and she would come and visit me. Having a cuddle and seeing her happy face was a massive boost. My heart would feel lighter whenever she would visit.
Without Amber I wouldn’t be here today. Last year I had surgery that thankfully gave me a second chance at life. I only got to that point because I wanted so desperately to take her for long walks or play with her in the garden again, she’s mad about tennis balls and loves to play fetch. The idea of giving her a happy life and repaying her for all the years of happiness she gave me when I needed it most kept me going. She still supports me when I have bad days but now I take advantage of every opportunity I can to be with her and do something fun.
I honestly don’t think words can really describe just how much I love her and what she means to me, but when I was a little girl I would dream about having a dog like her and I feel so lucky to have her in my life.
Jasper started out life being trained with Canine Partners, a charity which provides assistance dogs for people with disabilities. When he was a year old, he went to ‘big school’, which was an advanced training centre in West Sussex. As he’s quite shy, he started to struggle and it didn’t seem like the right fit for him. Eventually he was put up for adoption, and as I was on a waiting list I received a call asking me if I’d be interested in meeting him.
To cut a long story short, I fell in love with him straight away. I said I'd like to trial him just to make sure we were a good fit, but I don’t think it took longer than a day for me to realise we were meant to be!
He has most certainly transformed my life
Jasper settled in amazingly, and the past four years with him have been such a joy – although, I don’t think I really appreciated just what a difference he’s made to my life until recently. He might not be my assistance dog, but he has most certainly transformed my life.
Not too long ago, I suffered from a miscarriage. Physically, I was ok but mentally I have really been suffering. Jasper has made everything so much more bearable. He’s always there for me, happy to cuddle on the sofa or go on a long walk to soak up the fresh air. Every morning, he greets me with his funny Labrador sneezes (as they do) and his flappy ear shake. He gives me a purpose to get up and out of the house, and he’s even brought my partner and I closer together during this tough time.
I could not have been without him these past few months and I will never forget the kindness that he’s shown me. He’s so gorgeous and truly the most affectionate, caring dog I could ever ask for – even if he does leave black hairs all over the house!
A few years ago, I lost my wife to a battle with cancer. It had always been our dream to get a dog and so the following January, I went to my local rescue centre. My intention had always been to adopt a German Shepherd – but beautiful, brindled Ginny (who’s a Greyhound-Saluki cross) stole my heart. Two weeks later, she came to live with me.
She understands my sorrow
The amount she’s helped me to cope with the bereavement and loneliness is immeasurable. She makes me smile, she understands my sorrow and she makes friends wherever she goes.
She’s been quite the ambassador for rescue dogs, appearing on TV and in magazines as well as newspapers. She’s even been to local schools with me, to talk about pets and emotions. She really is the best companion I could ask for.
I have a severe mental health disorder and was told that looking after a dog could improve my wellbeing. When I got Xander, I knew he would be apositive influence in my life, but I never could have guessed how much he’d change my whole world
He howls at the ice cream van
Xander has given me a purpose, helping me to get out of the house and meet new people. He always knows when I’m having a bad day, and he’ll lay his head in my lap or put his paw on my leg. It’s enough to make me feel loved.
He has so many funny quirks, like the way he howls at the ice cream van whenever we walk past. Xander also has a cheeky side, and whenever youtell him off, he barks back at you!
On 7 July this year, I had a twist of my left ankle, fell and hit my back off a wall. I have MS and I use a stick but wasn’t doing anything stupid – just watching my two dogs play, turned around and that was it.
My son works from home and had just gone upstairs, so I knew I was in trouble as no one could have heard me. Dave my pug is trained to pick things I drop up, but I hadn’t dropped anything, so I told them to go get my son. They ran into the kitchen and stood barking but my son just kept working thinking they were playing.
It had started to rain and I knew I was in trouble as I couldn’t move and my breathing had become very shallow. In between them running in and out, I asked them to get my phone but it wasn’t on the floor so Dave was confused. I know Ed my Shar Pei loves the furry toy on my phone, so I asked him to get it.
Dear knows how long I’d have been out in the rain without my two super dogs
By now I’d been lying on the path for 20 minutes and knew I had done something bad. Ed came over and I could move my head, so I held onto him and he slowly pulled me towards the backdoor. He then lifted my phone but dropped it as he wasn’t really allowed to touch it, but then Dave grabbed it and gave it to me.
I texted “help fallen” and down my son came. He called 999, and when the medics saw me, they too knew I’d done something. They thought I’d punctured a lung, but after getting IV morphine I was somehow into the ambulance and blue lighted to hospital.
I’d broken my ankle and my back, and was in hospital for seven weeks, then got home needing carers, nurses and physios. I’m on the way to better health now, but dear knows how long I’d have been out in the rain without my two super dogs.
Alfie is a Shih Tzu. Before I got him, he was abused as a puppy and was sadly left with spinal damage. This means he struggles to walk any distance and suffers from a limp – but it just makes me love him all the more.
Alfie loves life, cats and meeting new people, especially children. He travels around in his pram like a prince in his golden carriage!
He’s like a prince in his golden carriage!
I’m disabled myself and in pain most days, but he gives me a reason to get up and get out no matter how I’m feeling. I love the way he puts a smile on people’s faces when they see him. Alfie is so cute that everyone always notices my brave little star. He’s proved that you don’t have to be Marilyn Monroe to stop traffic!