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!
Shortly after Rocco was gifted to me as a Valentine’s Day present, I underwent major knee surgery, resulting in me having to learn to walk again rather than devoting my full attention to my puppy. As I regained my mobility, Rocco was a vital part of my recovery, providing unconditional love and support along with companionship when I was back on my feet.
Rocco was a vital part of my recovery
Earlier this year, as a personal challenge I committed to walking 100,000 steps in seven days for charity. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it was incredibly challenging for me to do, and my hound was with me every step of the way. He joined in the early morning walks when he would prefer to be snoozing in bed, he trotted alongside me each lunchtime delaying his set time for dog biscuits, and he continued with me every evening exploring each new location I took him to. At the end of the week, I had done 4000 extra steps and Rocco had earned consecutive exercise badges on his doggy fitness tracker attached to his collar.
Stag and Harper are both ex-racing greyhounds. We adopted Stag when he was three years old, after he had broken his leg on a racetrack and been put into rescue. He is the perfect doting, quiet and gentle boy.
They are the perfect yin and yang and quietly best buddies!
One year after adopting him, we volunteered at his rescue sanctuary, and were asked to foster another three-year-old greyhound for four days over Christmas until her family could collect her. We agreed, but on Boxing Day her new family never showed up. We had her for months and months but no one would adopt her as she had a tiny limp, which was why she got ‘fired’ from racing after coming last in all six of her only races.
Eventually we gave in and adopted her, becoming failed foster parents. Harper had a tough life being moved from sanctuary to sanctuary and being unsuccessful in finding a home. She is the opposite of Stag – utterly bonkers and needy. But despite her background she is never happier than in the company of any and all humans. They are the perfect yin and yang and quietly best buddies! We’d love to take them away for a little break. Both are super well behaved and a joy to be around.
Lizzy is all the things you don't want. She's stubborn, always thinks she knows best and incredibly grumpy if her dinner is late.
Despite all that, she's been my rock since we rescued her at three years old. She's seen me through clinical depression and anxiety, and still is there for me when I need her. With the isolation the current climate has brought, taking her for walks and spending lots of time cuddling has been my therapy.
She’s been my rock
Lizzy never fails to make me laugh, and she remains bouncy and energetic, lighting up whenever she gets a sniff of agility equipment. I'm honestly not sure how she keeps going, behaving like a dog half her age, the only real sign being that after her mad romps she does need to sleep for a while. But, as soon as that's done, she's ready to go again!
Marley came into our lives at five months old, as a sensitive but funny pup. He didn't like loud noises and eventually stopped going out for walks in the evening as he was scared of fireworks, and associated them with the dark.
He is a big tail wager, and developed 'Happy Tail Syndrome.' After the third bout, his tail was amputated but this hasn’t stopped him wagging what he has left.
A wonderful, gentle soul
Marley is a wonderful, gentle soul and is the most patient pal to our two children. We now live in the countryside, which means all his fears are easing. He loves his walks and snuggles on the sofa, and apples are his favourite treat.
He truly is a beautiful boy, greying around the face and getting slower over the last few years, but such an important member of our family!
We got Otto when I was waiting for an operation on my eye. He gave me a reason to get up every morning. He was 10 weeks old and needed an urgent new home due to flooding and so we went and got him.
He is the best friend I could ask for
He is the best friend I could ask for. He hasn’t had the best start in life – bad breeding meant he was underweight, and we found out a few months ago that he has severe hip dysplasia and needed both his hips replacing. He had his first operation in August at 11 months old and next week will be going for his other hip replacement surgery.
Despite all of that he has been as good as gold and kept me going. I’m at high risk of Covid so have had to stay home since March and again he made it all bearable. He’s just lovely and after saving for his operations I would love to give him a treat.