Jester is just three months old but has already made a big difference to my life. I was widowed suddenly last year and I am classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, so found the first lockdown very hard. My daughter and family did all they could but obviously cannot be here 24/7.
He has already made a big difference to my life
This lockdown is hard, but I have a purpose: woken at 6.30am, puppy training, regular meals, games and enforced rest whilst he sleeps – usually on me, given the chance!
He may not be able to talk but he cocks his head and listens, probably thinking ‘is she going mad?!’ Help in the garden involves digging, pulling trailing plants, collecting and dispersing fallen apples.
Swizzle is our miniature black and tan Dachshund. He’s changed our lives for the better in so many different ways, like helping to keep us active. One of our favourite things to do now is go for a long walk, and without Swizzle, we would never have discovered some of the nature trails or beautiful sites in our local area.
Having Swizzle also means we can’t be picky – we have to go for a walk come rain or shine. Getting outside no matter what has helped to improve our mental health, especially in these difficult times we’re all facing.
He’s changed our lives for the better
Swizzle makes us laugh everyday with his unique quirks. He always comes to sleep in our bed, but he doesn’t just curl up at the end – no, he lies with his head on the pillow, flat on his back, just like a human.
Like a typical Dachshund, he loves to bark out the window at other dogs passing by, and he gets particularly excited if he sees one that looks like him. We’re sure he thinks he owns the street outside our house!
Freya turned one this week, but she has already had a lot of upheaval in her first year. She was born a stray in Cyprus, and taken in by a charity over there who brought her to England at just a couple of months old. Once here, she was adopted by a young owner – we don’t know much about him other than he sadly passed away very suddenly soon after adopting Freya.
We couldn’t be more pleased
She ended up in adoption kennels, and shockingly was there for months. Several families came to meet her, but each time they decided she was just too big and lively to be the right fit for them. Although it’s sad that Freya was in kennels for so long as a young pup still developing, it was great news for myself and my partner who eventually found her and took her home.
Staff at the kennels warned she was a bit wild, strong on the lead and over-excitable. We couldn’t be more pleased, this didn’t put us off. Freya is the most peaceful, loving, intelligent dog we could imagine. We’ve had her for three months now, and a day hasn’t gone by where we haven’t been flabbergasted by how lucky we are to have her in our lives. We now love cosying up in front of the fire with her every night, and wandering through the countryside and along the coast with her at the weekends. We can’t imagine life without her.
I have Muscular Dystrophy and am in a wheelchair, so I wasn’t sure how a puppy would fit into our lives initially, but I knew I wanted the love and companionship only a furry friend could provide.
Kylo is now one year old and has already exceeded all of my expectations. He is such a loving dog and is never happier than when he’s sitting with us and getting lots of attention. He is very sensitive to my disability and will sit by my legs as though protecting me from the world (something he doesn’t do to anyone else). He also sits and waits patiently whenever I go past in my wheelchair, and even seems to sense when my feet and legs are painful.
He has brought such love, joy and affection
He has recently learnt to bring me my socks when I ask him to, after many months of grabbing them and taking off! We all utterly adore him, and he has brought such joy, love and affection into our family life.
Whenever you enter room, he will always greet you with a very enthusiastic tail wag – we call it the helicopter. He’s so smart and learnt all his commands and tricks in no time. Although, despite his intelligence, he is stillabsolutely terrified of the microwave!
Percy is a singer. He has several favourite tunes, but his go-to is A Kind of Magic by Queen. No matter where he is, he can't control himself, if he hears this song he must sing to it!
Singing at the top of his voice
A couple of years ago, we were on holiday in the south of France, and found a pub we liked to go to every evening. One night, Queen came on the jukebox and Percy was away, singing, or more correctly, howling, at the top of his voice – much to the amusement of the guests.
The bar owner cottoned on to this, so every evening at the same time he would turn on the jukebox and Percy would do his thing. One night, there was a Karaoke competition. Needless to say, Percy took center stage – which was an upside down beer barrel with a microphone placed in front of it – and started singing at the top of his voice. He attracted quite a crowd and won by a mile, and afterwards became somewhat of a local celebrity!
Vega is my trainee Disability Assistance Dog. Lockdown has put a stop to training sessions and temporarily prevented her from becoming fully qualified, but in our home, she’s become our very own saviour.
On my bad days she stays close by my side so she can help me out. She picks up things I drop, fetches numerous ‘named’ items on request such as shoes and medication and even takes off my socks, jumpers, trousers when asked. She also does a lot to help around the house, like fetching the phone when it rings and tidying up after my two other dogs.
She’s become our very own saviour
When I’m in a lot of pain, Vega lies across my legs to comfort me. Of course, I’m not the only one she helps – my older dog, Skye, has early dementia, and when she’s having a bad day, Vega will lie with her and help to calm her down. She even knows to pick up the dog bowls after dinner time and take them to the sink!
The greatest gift Vega gives me is her company. She is always close by and I know I can rely on her when I need help. This year, we’ve both learnt to understand each other, which has really strengthened our bond. She teaches me just as much as I teach her.