Page 1

Autumn/Winter 2017

Edition 31

INSIDE THIS ISSUE: A typical day in the life of assistance dog Elsie


“ I could not be prouder of Jay and Ethan, and Support Dogs have played a massive part in his growing up ”

Find out more on page 5 A young mum’s struggle for a normal life with the help of her faithful support dog Paddy Read more on page 14

Give your support to this amazing charity

About Support Dogs

In our 25th year Honorary President of Support Dogs Angela Rippon appeals for your help to enable us to carry on making a difference.

It’s Support Dogs’ passion and commitment to ensure that people affected by autism, epilepsy and physical disability can enjoy a greater level of independence. We aim to do this by providing, training and supporting registered assistance dogs.

This year we celebrate 25 years of our charity Support Dogs. My involvement with the charity goes all the way back to those early days in 1990’s when I first met its founders. It was, and still is, a small charity wanting to make a big difference, and that’s what I really liked about it. I have seen at first hand the incredible impact these dogs make to people’s lives. When the charity first started out it trained dogs for people with physical disabilities, but over the years its remit has expanded and developed. Support Dogs have been pioneers in training seizure alert dogs for people with epilepsy, providing a 100 per cent reliable warning. I’m still in awe of how they do it. It’s the freedom that these dogs bring to their owners. People didn’t dare  leave their house because they were worried that they would have a seizure without warning. I’ve heard of some people being robbed while they were having a seizure. Now they can now go out because their support dog alerts them if they are about to have a seizure. It’s truly amazing. The charity’s programme to train support dogs for children with autism, established almost 10 years ago, has had a huge impact not just on that child but their parents, siblings and

wider family. Support Dogs have brought freedom to so many people. Over the years I have met many people and their dogs who have benefited from the charity. I was fortunate to again meet clients and their support dogs from all three of the charity’s programmes in October at an event in London to celebrate the charity’s anniversary. Hearing their stories and understanding the impact that having a support dog has made to their lives, reinvigorates one’s passion to help this charity to grow and help many more to benefit from its work. Support Dogs receives thousands of requests for help every year. The charity relies 100 per cent on voluntary donations, and the fact that it has grown over the past quarter of a century is testament to the wonderful support received from volunteers, businesses and community organisations. Nearly 25 years on I’m very proud of Support Dogs, the people who work here and of course, our clients, who really inspire me. I urge you to join and give your support to this amazing charity.

Angela Rippon

Honorary President, Support Dogs

We provide: Autism assistance dogs for children aged three to ten years with autism. The dogs are trained to provide safety for the child and reduce stress in social environments. Seizure alert dogs for people with epilepsy. The dogs are trained to provide a hundred per cent reliable, 10-55 minute warning prior to the onset of an epileptic seizure, which enables them to get to a place of their choosing and take control of the situation. In some instances it has been reported that seizure alert dogs have also been shown to reduce seizure frequency. Disability assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities. The client’s own pet dog is trained to perform tasks which are specifically tailored to their individual needs; examples of these tasks include: • Opening and closing doors • Raising the alarm • Fetching the post • Loading and unloading the washing machine • Assisting with dressing and undressing Support Dogs is a registered charity and does not charge for its services. However we rely entirely on voluntary donations and receive no government funding. Chief Executive: Rita Howson Chair: Barry Brackner Honorary President: Angela Rippon CBE Patrons: The Earl & Countess of Scarbrough Elaine Paige OBE Cover image of Ethan and Mandy Dyson and Jay courtesy of A Dog’s Life

Contact Support Dogs 21 Jessops Riverside Brightside Lane Sheffield S9 2RX Registered Charity Number: 1088281

info@supportdogs.org.uk www.supportdogs.org.uk FOLLOW US @supportdogsuk LIKE US supportdogsuk1 To sponsor a dog today call Support Dogs on

0114 261 7800 Angela Rippon pictured with trainer Jemma Finch and Zip

or to donate by SMS, text

SDOG15 £5 to 70070



A YEAR OF CELEBRATION As part of the charity’s 25th anniversary celebrations in 2017, Support Dogs held two high-profile events – its first-ever reception event in London, and a garden party in the grounds of a stately home. The London reception took place at the prestigious premises of the Kennel Club in Piccadilly, where guests were joined by the charity’s honorary president Angela Rippon CBE, patrons the Earl and Countess of Scarbrough and VIPs including Martin Clunes OBE and Minister of State for Disabled People, Penny Mordaunt MP. Clients from all three of the charity’s programmes of work spoke about the impact the charity and their support dogs have had on their lives. The event aimed to generate wider awareness of the charity and its need to increase the support for its work, so it can expand and help more people. Chief executive Rita Howson said: “As we reach our 25th year we’re incredibly proud of what we have achieved, but we’re faced with a truly overwhelming demand for our services. In comparison to other assistance dog charities in the UK we are incredibly underfunded, but the number of enquiries for our services doubled last year to over 3,600 from people desperate for our help. We are determined to do everything we can to help them. “Our future goals and dreams are ambitious but so are our people. Our current training centre is not ideal and constrains the capability of growing into the size of organisation that we aspire to become. Ms Howson added that that Support Dogs would reach its maximum capacity (staff and dogs) in its present premises over the next three to five years, so were currently researching the feasibility of launching a capital appeal to raise funds that would to enable the charity to purchase or build a fit-for-purpose property. “Our trustee board is strong but still small in numbers so we are looking to recruit more skilled and dedicated

The Earl and Countess of Scarbrough and some canine friends at the Support Dogs’ garden party

members,” she added. “We will also need to form a committee that has experience and knowledge of running a capital appeal.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Brabbi

event in the magnificent grounds of Sandbeck Park, near Maltby in South Yorkshire. The 25th anniversary party was exactly ten years to the day after Support Dogs’ training centre was devastated by the Sheffield Flood, almost forcing the charity to close. Ms Howson paid tribute to the hard work of all the staff and volunteers who had enabled the charity to rise from the flood waters a decade ago to become the national force it is today, with 250 successful assistance dog partnerships.

From left, Rita Howson and client Amanda Davidson and Jupiter with Penny Mordaunt, MP

“So if you or you know of anyone who would be interested in joining us for this adventure please ask them to get in touch.” The garden party in June was hosted by the charity’s newest patrons, the Earl and Countess of Scarbrough. More than 200 supporters and guests joined clients and canines for the

VIP Martin Clunes with support dog Azerley at our London showcase Photos courtesy of Georgina Parry

A day in the life of:

Elsie the disability support dog An insight into a typical training day for one of our support dogs Running round the park, followed by a quick trip to Meadowhall shopping centre then going home to load the washing machine and tidying up the living room is all in a day’s work for Elsie.That’s Elsie the black Labrador of course. It’s just another day of intensive training for the pooch aiming to become a disability assistance dog with Support Dogs. Elsie, who arrived from another dog charity at the age of two, has already undergone a 12 week basic training programme, and has just graduated to two weeks of more specialised training with her instructor Sarah to prepare her for life as a disability support dog for her new owner Mary. Mary has a range of physical disabilities and spends much of her time in a wheelchair, so needs plenty of help around the home. She’s come all the way from Glasgow to train with Elsie, and has left her previous, shortly-to-be-retired support dog Pippa at home with husband Andrew. Like all assistance dogs in training, Elsie arrives at the training centre first thing in the morning, having spent the evening with her foster carers in the city. One this particular day, Sarah, (pictured right) who has a degree in zoology and a masters in clinical animal behaviour, plus years of dog training experience, decides to kick off with a walk, or what dog trainers call a ‘free run’ round the park.

“It’s important that the dogs have time to be dogs, every day.” Sarah explains. trainers call a ‘restricted space’ where only assistance dogs are allowed to enter. Elsie’s not hugely happy about wearing her smart blue Support Dogs jacket in the shopping centre, but after more cheesy rewards she heads in with Sarah and Mary, looking for all the world as if she’s been there dozens of times.

Sarah is extremely satisfied with the day’s achievement.

Elsie clearly agrees and has a great time off the lead chasing seagulls and snuffling under hedgerows for food – like most Labradors she’s always hungry. But soon it’s time for work. Sarah is training her to pick up dropped keys on the off the footpath, then a plastic bottle, then to drop it. The trainers use a reward system, giving the dog treats for completing a task – either dry dog food pellets called kibble, or carrots, which the dogs seem to love. They save particularly high value treats for the completion of a particularly difficult task such as coming back when called. For Elsie that means cheese – several lumps of it after satisfactorily completing everything asked of her. Then it’s off for a first-ever visit to Meadowhall, mercifully quiet on a midweek morning, but nevertheless still potentially something of a shock to the system of a still-learning assistance dog. It’s what the

finds and fetches a misplaced mobile phone several times. Her success rate is about 75 per cent for these tasks, and Sarah plans to come back to them the following day when the dog is fresher. Then it’s off outside again to practise wearing a harness, and sitting at dropped kerbs. The following day it will be more practice unloading a washing machine, and ‘find daddy’ – the instruction or cue to look for Mary’s husband if she needs help.

“Training is physically and mentally tiring for our dogs, and more difficult for Elsie because she is adapting to a new person, but I am really, really pleased with Elsie and Mary,” she says. “Mary has a real understanding of dogs and really good skills, and as a pair they are much further ahead in their training than most.” She negotiates two lifts in Marks and Spencer, doesn’t react when a small child grabs her by the nose, and generally trots happily alongside Mary in her wheelchair, obeying all commands. Sarah professes herself delighted at her progress. After a rest and lunch back at the centre, Elsie practises opening and closing doors via a tassel attached to the handle, and

The future is looking bright, then, for Mary and her new support dog, who will spend the next few months bonding and training together before Elsie officially graduates. But for now, with the day’s training over, Elsie is heading back to her foster carers, and the prospect of being just a dog again for the evening.


We need you to do something amazing and help us change more lives. From jumping out of planes, to long distance runs and obstacle races, there is something for you to get your teeth in to. To take part or find out more visit www.supportdogs.org.uk or email fundraising@supportdogs.org.uk. Get in touch to get your own Support Dogs fundraiser t-shirt and fundraising pack. We also have special dog outfits available for those wanting to take on a real challenge.


It’s a challenge, not a race. toughmudder.co.uk


06 JAN


Summer’s ideal event - coloured balls, inflatables and 5k of fun. colourobstaclerush.co.uk



BRIGHTON GLOW Midnight 5km Run. blitzrun.com BRIGHTON







5km or 10km and Don’t want to a free superhero run for Support Dogs? Just Walk! costume.

GREAT NORTH SWIM Brrrring it on Lake Windermere! greatrun.org THE LAKES

09 SEP

13 MAY

12 MAY

GREAT NORTH RUN We have guaranteed places at the world’s biggest half-marathon for those who can raise a minimum of £300 in sponsorship. Running in a dog outfit optional.


MONTHLY CANI-X We want you to take on 5k cani-x runs with your canine companion while raising funds for Support Dogs. Events through the year, across the UK.

canix.co.uk THROUGHOUT UK


Throughout the year SKYDIVE The ultimate thrill! skylineparachuting. co.uk





Charity’s oldest challenge.

Fun while fundraising.

globaladventurechallenges. com

ukrunningevents. co.uk

24 miles through the heart of God’s own country.



threepeaks challenge.uk LONDON

For more info and a fundraising pack email: fundraising@supportdogs.org.uk

Can you rise to the CHALLENGE for Team Support Dogs? People who raise money for Support Dogs do the most amazing things on our behalf while having really good fun. Take Mike Robinson, who did the Great North Run for the sixth consecutive year for us, this time in a dog costume. “Running 13.1 miles from Newcastle to South Shields dressed as a support dog made me feel really apprehensive on the weeks leading to the big day, “says Mike, not unreasonably. “However, I’ve never spoken to, high fived, been cheered, selfied and supported by as many people at any event! “It was inspiring that crowds took time to shout my name, Support

Dogs or ‘dog man’ throughout the distance. I finished with a huge smile on my face knowing that for a couple of hours I’d really raised awareness of the amazing work Support Dogs do,” he adds. “Every time I look at the pictures they make me smile, hopefully in the same way that when people see one of the real support dogs they also smile with pride. I’d have no hesitation in recommending running any event to raise funds and awareness, but to really make it special the dog costume is a must!” In the same event, Allan Bancroft pushed his nine-year old daughter Harriette round the junior course in a wheelchair. Harriette has complex health

problems after being born prematurely and can’t walk or talk, but loves running and being outdoors. “Harriette loves the sensation of running, and hearing people cheering, and always has a great time whizzing round,” explains Allan. “She has and will always have a huge amount of help and support throughout her life, so wanted to help other disabled people to enjoy the outdoors and an active life as much as she does - by raising money for Support Dogs.”

Fancy a challenge in our sporty dog outfit? For more details please email:

fundraising@supportdogs.org.uk or phone: 0114 261 7800

This summer Tineka Lashmar from Broadstairs and her friend, nursery nurse Justine Newton, too k part in a gruelling 24-hour endurance walk, the 100k Cotswold Way Challe nge. That was on the back of the equ ally tough South Coast Challenge the previous summer. Says Tineka: “I chose Support Dogs as I’m a veterinary nur se and wanted to raise money and awareness for the less-advertised anima l related charities. I really believe in wh at you do, the help and support that the support dogs provide which in tur n gives people

a chance to carry on with everyday tasks and life. “Trust me there were parts of the night during the challenge when you just want to giv e in to tiredness and lay down and sle ep, but the thought of why you are completing this hugely demand ing challenge is to give something bac k to other who can benefit from the money raised. So for just 24 hours out of my life it was worth it to raise mo ney for others.”

with The Colour Obstacle Rush, a 5k event has , paint and inflatable obstacles, music years t recen in grown massively in popularity people as it’s great fun that can be enjoyed by y. iduall of all ages, as a team or indiv event at Diane Marriott took part in the Sheffield a great Rother Valley Country Park, says: “I had music great with fun, good ly stical fanta time. It’s ion occas the made what and e, spher and atmo that I was even more special was the knowledge to my close so that’s ty chari a for y mone raising must-do heart. I’d highly recommend it as a event for 2018!”

DISABILITY “Ruby has changed my life and without Support Dogs that would never have happened.”

Ruby proves to be a real diamond Ex-volunteer Andrea turns client as support dog Ruby transforms her life. Andrea Jack was so proud when she won Support Dogs’ Foster Carer of the Year Award back in 2011, after her fantastic volunteering efforts for the charity she loved were recognised. Little did she know that within just three years her circumstances would change dramatically and she would go from volunteer to client, after developing a severe form of inflammatory arthritis. Andrea and her support dog Ruby qualified as a partnership just over a year ago and the pair are now inseparable. “My experiences with Support Dogs have been overwhelmingly positive, and Ruby is my little miracle,” says Andrea, now 45. “She has given me a purpose and helped me regain my confidence.” Andrea’s connection to the charity goes back to 2007, when, on a fundraising training course, she met a fundraiser from Support Dogs and was so impressed by their work she decided that when her circumstances allowed, she would become a foster carer.

Foster Carer of the Year Three years later, and living close to Support Dogs’ training centre in Brightside, Sheffield, she finally got her wish, looking after a large number of dogs and going on to win the Foster Carer of the Year award at the graduation ceremony a year later. But when she moved to a different part of the city further away from the training centre and started working nearer to home so she could pop home at lunchtime, Andrea decided it was time to get her own dog, Ruby.


As a much younger woman Andrea had been diagnosed with an inflammatory form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. Fortunately it had been kept more or less in check by anti-inflammatory drugs for the previous 20 years. But just three months after getting Ruby Andrea suffered a huge, painful flare of the condition. After some months delay she was also diagnosed with a related condition called psoriatic arthritis, a severe, chronic condition which affects the joints and skin. She had to take several weeks off

“All my joints are affected but my back, hands and knees are the worst and I often drop things and find it hard to bend over and pick them up. Ruby helps me those kinds of everyday tasks – she pulls of my socks and trousers, opens doors, picks up the post, or anything I’ve dropped. “But she’s also helped me with confidence. I was suddenly living on my own, and because of my joints I often struggled to get out of the bath with noone there to help me. Having Ruby there to bring me the phone if I needed help in an emergency made a huge difference.”

“Ruby gave me a purpose” work until this initial flare up subsided sufficiently to return to work. It took a further 12 months working through various powerful drugs, before a combination was found that stabilised her condition. Andrea applied to Support Dogs for Ruby to become her assistance dog, but in a further blow, within weeks after being accepted onto the course her long-term relationship ended, she moved out into a house on her own, and her confidence crashed. “The training course was probably the most challenging experience, both emotionally and physically, of my entire life; I wanted it to work so badly,” says Andrea. “For the six months we were in training I was in a pretty tough place and was unwell, but Ruby got me out of the house and gave me a purpose. She got me to connect with people and regain my confidence, which was shot.

A successful partnership Andrea is now getting on with her life. She has moved back to her home town of Wigan to be closer to her family and works full time, from home, for an international precision medicines company. The company have always been very supportive and Ruby is now well loved across the organisation. She has a European pet passport, and recently accompanied Andrea to the four-day all company meeting in Ireland, taking the ferry journeys, meeting venues and activities in her stride. Andrea adds: “I was talking to another Support Dogs’ client recently and said that when you have a dog you can have a really strong bond with it, but when it qualifies as your assistance dog it’s like you are one being - and that’s exactly how it is.”


SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR THE AMAZING HETTY As Hetty, the world’s first-ever dual-trained seizure alert/guide dog, prepares for well-deserved retirement, she has been nominated for another award in recognition of her extraordinary achievements. For the past six-and-ahalf years, Hetty the black Labrador cross has been providing unique, truly lifechanging support for Toni Brown-Griffin. She is perhaps our charity’s most famous Support Dog, being the world’s first ever dual-trained seizure alert/guide dog, which has led her to win national honours, TV appearances and more than 55,000 followers on Twitter. Toni‘s complex medical conditions mean she needs constant assistance and Hetty - nicknamed ‘Turbo’ because of her phenomenal energy – provides that. Toni, who is registered blind and has intractable epilepsy, says: “Hetty is fundamental to my life. Everything I do is because of her. Without Hetty I’d be stuck. I used to say I had epilepsy with a little bit of life, but now thanks to the incredible support provided by Hetty and Support Dogs I have a life with a little bit of epilepsy.” Trained by Support Dogs and the Guide Dogs for the Blind

Association, Hetty gives Toni a warning 42 minutes before she has an epileptic seizure by resting her muzzle on her left thigh, giving her time to get to a safe place. That’s in addition to her guiding duties. While the duo were training Toni could have up to 30 seizures a day, but their frequency has now greatly reduced. Toni has suffered from severe epilepsy for the past 20 years, and at one point was having 12 major and 40 minor seizures a week. For a time her life effectively came to an end; she was in and out of hospital, and relied on carers when her husband Dan went out to work. Her life was transformed when she picked up a leaflet for a charity looking for suitable candidates for a pilot study on seizure alert dogs. That was the start of a long relationship with Support Dogs which continues to this day, and Hetty is now Toni’s fourth assistance dog. Eleven years ago Toni suffered retinal bleeding during the birth of her second daughter, and lost her sight. But even that setback

Award-winning partnership Toni and Hetty

failed to dent her determination to be as independent as possible. Thanks to Hetty, Toni is able to have a busy, active, life. She has gone back to horse-riding, riding in half-hour bursts and checking in with her dog to make sure her next 30 minutes will remain seizure-free. She also goes swimming with her children, and regularly walks for ten miles a day with Hetty around their home in Langton Green in Kent. But now a series of injuries and bouts of ill health - due partly to being attacked by other dogs - means that Hetty will be retiring next year. In 2015 Hetty was attacked on three occasions by other dogs while out with Toni. Because of a new law brought in the previous year to protect assistance dogs, two of the attack dogs were seized and their owners prosecuted, but for Hetty, the damage was done. Now the hunt is on to find a very special replacement dog that combines all her extraordinary qualities, and over the next 18 months the charity will begin searching and training a new support dog

for Toni, while ensuring that Hetty has a healthy and happy retirement. Fittingly, as Hetty approaches retirement, she has been nominated for another award, this time the Hero Pet award in the Amplifon Awards for Brave Britons, for unsung heroes who represent the ‘Best of British’. “Hetty is going to be a tough act to follow,” says Toni. “All four of my support dogs have been very different personalities and I like to think of each partnership as a different chapter in my life. You may not always get the dog you want – I requested a large yellow male Labrador, and Hetty turned up – a little black female. However, you do tend to get the dog that you really need, and I really needed my turbo-charged Hetty!” Support Dogs’ chief executive Rita Howson adds: “It will be a very, very difficult task to find a dog that combines all Hetty’s guiding skills with her ability to detect seizures. In many ways Hetty is utterly irreplaceable a SUPERDOG”



F I D A T WHA Ethan Dyson and Isaac Dennis were small boys when autism assistance dogs Jay and Jarvis came into their lives. Now they are both teenagers, are their canine carers still making a difference? The past 12 years have not been easy ones for Ethan and his mum Mandy Dyson. Until he was two Ethan was advanced for his years. Then a month after his second birthday, for no apparent reason, he turned into a completely different child overnight. Autism was diagnosed. Ethan’s behaviour became increasingly erratic. He started to escape from his buggy and run away when out shopping with Mandy. He stopped talking, but

started screaming. Leaving the house became impossible. “Everyone working in shop security in Bury knew us because there was an episode every week,” says mum Mandy, wryly. When he was seven Ethan was introduced to two support dogs and although Jay was not initially lined up to be his companion, in Mandy’s words, “it was love at first sight,” and boy and black Labrador bonded immediately.

Although the first weeks of training were extremely hard for Mandy, who had her own health issues, after a few months she realised just what Jay could do for her son. “We were out and Ethan had a meltdown, and I sat him in a corner with Jay and reasoned with him and he calmed down – I’d never seen that before,” she recalls. “After that we went from strength to strength.”

ight” s t s r fi t a e v o l “It was

Photo courtesy of A Dog’s Life



That year Ethan started attending a special needs school, and with Jay’s help they started ‘unlocking’ Ethan. So much so that he was able to go to a mainstream comprehensive school at the age of 11. While there have inevitably been problems along the way, with the help of a one-to-one classroom assistant, Ethan, now 14, has done well and is regarded as a highly intelligent young man. Once something has been read to him he has an excellent memory and recall, and can retain information, such as the

Periodic Table. He is head of his year in science. He still finds it difficult to make close friends, and remains close to his beloved dog. His mum says the pair are ‘like brothers,’ and are often found cuddled up on the sofa together. Thanks to Jay, Ethan is able to go out normally. He plays the guitar and piano and loves Lego. And he would like to be an engineer when he grows up. Jay is due to retire in two years’ time, around the time that Ethan finishes his

GCSEs, so there will be plenty of changes ahead for boy and dog. In the meantime Mandy is just grateful to Support Dogs for providing the family with Jay, and their help and support over the past seven years.

“I could not be prouder of Ethan and Jay, and Support Dogs have played a massive part in his growing up,” she adds.

Isaac Dennis and his support dog Jarvis have come to the end of an incredible journey. In June Isaac reached his 16th birthday and his canine companion of the past seven years was ten and retired a few weeks later. Isaac was and always will have very severe autism and learning difficulties. He finds noise hard to deal with, and always wears earphones. He can’t verbalise his needs or feelings and his behaviour is at times very challenging. But since he was a very small boy, as well as his devoted mum Jenny, and twin sister Jess, Isaac has always been able to rely on Jarvis, his yellow Labrador/ Golden Retriever cross. “They are still like best buddies,” says mum Jenny from Heanor in Derbyshire. “Jasper is very good at knowing when Isaac is in a bad mood to leave him alone! The three of us don’t go out that much together now as we’re trying to wean Isaac off Jarvis, so he is not so reliant on him now he has retired. We can pop to the shops or go to restaurants and Isaac doesn’t run off any more when we’re out.” Isaac is now a big, heavy lad, remains nonverbal, and is at times quite aggressive. He

all our lives.” fe li ’s c a a Is anged “Jarvis has ch goes to a special school for young people with autism where he will stay until he is 19. Bringing up a child with severe autism is unbelievably tough but Jenny remains stoical. “It’s just life really, one of those things,” she says. “It’s a bit of a cliché but it does make you a better person, more patient and understanding. I have an

amazing group of friends who all chip in and help, and am blessed to have Jess as well – so I have half of a normal life. “Jess used to be quite embarrassed to go out with Isaac as he’d growl quite a lot, but they are very close now and have a lovely bond. When we first got Jarvis, seven years ago, it was hard to explain to her that he wasn’t a pet when he had his jacket on! Jarvis changed Isaac’s life – all our lives.”


Jarvis has always had a calming influence on Isaac, but despite this Jenny says her son was difficult to live with in early adolescence, having regular ‘meltdowns’. That time is now over and the Dennis family is now preparing for the next stage in Isaac’s life; one without his long-time fourlegged carer. Jarvis became more of a pet in his final months as a support dog, switching from being extremely focused when wearing his Support Dog jacket to being an ‘absolute playful nutter’ while off duty. “He’s a big baby, and likes loads of fuss. I can’t imagine what life would have been like without him,” adds Jenny. “Not having Jarvis as a support dog means we will have a safety net removed, but I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

How support dog Minta is still making the world accessible for Jacob When he was eight Jacob Owens became the face of Support Dogs on the front cover of our Aura magazine, and in a series of posters and publicity material. Jacob, from Peterborough, has a severe form of autism, and since the age of seven, his support dog Minta has been changing his life and opening up his world. From being an isolated and lonely boy, Jacob quickly became happier and calmer, able to go out to the shops or on family days out. Three years later his progress continues to be extraordinary, reports Jacob’s mum Susan. “Minta is amazing, although she doesn’t do as much work as she used to because Jacob is a different child!” says Susan. “Before Minta came along we couldn’t get Jacob to go to the shop for a pint of milk, but now he can go to the shops independently, without the dog, and pay for things with cash or a card. I can’t believe he can do that. It’s been a real process, and he could never have done that without her.” Jacob used to attend a special school for children with autism, but since last year has been at mainstream secondary school where he is coping and doing well. His level of understanding has improved enormously and he has gained ‘phenomenal, mind-blowing confidence’, given to him by Minta, says Susan.


And he and Minta remain the firmest of friends. “Jacob’s friends at school asked him what was the best thing about Minta, and he said: “she makes me happy and I love her,” she adds. As he’s got older Jacob has become more socially aware, which was one of the main purposes of having a support dog, and although Minta is still only six,

and has another four years to go until her retirement, the family are aware that as Jacob becomes an adolescent, things will inevitably change. “We’ve used Minta as a tool to make the world accessible to Jacob, and that’s what she’s done. We know that Minta won’t be replaced, and we’re moving towards that,” says Susan. “She has completely changed his life.”

Support Dogs trains and provides autism assistance dogs for children between the ages of three and 10. Demand for the programme is extremely high.

Applicants must live within a two-hour drive of our training centre in Sheffield.

For more information go to:


Hundreds of supporters have been helping us over the past year to raise vital funds for our charity. Here is just a taster of some of the different ways that some of you very kind people have helped: Westbourne School (pictured right) Chose Support Dogs as their Charity of the Year, hosting events throughout the year to raise £2,205.

Westbourne School

Kate and Ross Celebrated their wedding and raised £1,264 by asking for donations to Support Dogs in lieu of wedding gifts.

Two to Tango Hosted an event and raffle to raise £475.

Stanton-by-Dale collected £40 from it’s members to donate to Support Dogs.

The Inner Wheel of Hallam Through their fundraising activities have raised £660.

Millhouses Community Choir donated £107 after collecting for Support Dogs at several of their recent concerts.

Felixstowe Dog Training Club Have chosen Support Dogs as their club’s charity and donated £250.

Symmetry collected £11.28 from staff within a small office team. Symmetry know that a even a small donation can make a big difference.

The Moring Family raised £30.00 at a party with friends.

Friends of Richard Marshall raised £440 in his memory from a collection at his funeral.

Irene Holt and her family raised £422.23 at a garden party they organised. Network Rail raised £66.82 while meeting their sponsor dog Grant in their offices.

Banstead Infant School Children held an auction of students’ art to raise an incredible £209. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club Continued to fundraise at the ‘Dogs Unleashed’ event, raising £808.50. Lyn and Tilly Generously donated £500 to keep our dogs occupied with training equipment.

If you are inspired to help our charity please email fundraising@supportdogs.org.uk or phone 0114 261 7800

Can you foster a support dog? We are looking for volunteer foster carers near our national training centre in Sheffield.

Ideally we would like you to be able to drop off and pick up dogs from our location at S9 2RX near the Meadowhall shopping centre, junction 34 of the M1. We have dogs that need fostering from anything between a few weeks, a few months and occasionally up to a year. Fostering is perfect for someone who works full-time but still would like to enjoy some canine company. We provide all the equipment a foster carer will need, including food, vet care, and flea and worming treatments. We offer full support and have our 24hour emergency phone line. We ask that foster carers have a secure garden, can commit to exercising the dog and be able to attend our training sessions. To find out more visit: www.supportdogs.org.uk or call 0114 2617800


Casey, Dan, Aoife and Paddy



LIVING WITH A HIDDEN DISABILITY One young woman’s story of how outward appearances can be deceptive – and how support dog Paddy helps her to live a more normal life. Support Dogs’ clients have a wide range of physical disabilities that may not be immediately obvious to the casual observer. Young mum Casey Catlin, who has lived with severe arthritis since she was a toddler, knows better than most how outward appearances bear little reality to the levels of pain and disability she has to live with just about every day. As our photo shows, Casey, husband Dan, baby Aoife and support dog Paddy, who live in Chatham, Kent, are a seemingly healthy young family unit. Yet Casey, now 26, was diagnosed with a form of inflammatory arthritis - a crippling auto-immune condition that affects the joints and internal organs - at the age of just 18 months. She spent many years as a small child in a wheelchair and was unable to walk until the age of eight. Thanks to the effects of powerful immunosuppressant drugs which kept her condition under control, she was able to attend normal schools, but over the years her arthritis has regularly flared up, making normal life difficult. Casey has had Golden Retriever Paddy since he was a puppy and the pair have been a successful Support Dogs partnership for the past four years. Puppy Paddy came into Casey’s life when she was having a particularly bad time, six years ago. “I was going through a very low patch in life, all my drugs were changing, my condition was flaring up and it was something to brighten my day,” she says. “I loved training him and he was very intelligent. When I was with him I would get up and out for a walk even on bad days - he was my motivation.” Casey’s mum suggested that Paddy would make a great assistance dog, but despite being accepted onto the Support Dogs training programme he nearly failed his training - being used to a quiet part of Kent, the noise and bustle of Sheffield, where Support Dogs is based, made him nervous. But with Casey and trainer

Tracey’s hard work and encouragement, Paddy became accustomed to buses, trams and traffic, and went on to qualify with flying colours. With Paddy’s assistance Casey managed to get through 18 months of a degree course in an animal management at the University of Greenwich. Ill health forced her to give up, but she still plans to pursue her dream of working with animals – entirely because of her positive experience of Support Dogs. “Because I was diagnosed so young I have never known anything else,” Casey explains. “The thing I struggle the most with is trying to explain to people how I feel when I don’t know how I feel myself. Some days I’m perfectly fine but extremely tired. The hardest thing for me is the unpredictability of the condition. I have a wheelchair, a stick and crutches but I’m 26 and trying to be a physically independent as I can without asking for help.” When Casey gave birth to baby Aiofe in spring this year, Paddy, as well as Casey, had to make a lot of adaptations to their new life as he was used to being her constant canine presence. “For five years Paddy has been my world, a great companion,” she says. “Now he has to learn to take a bit of a step back. Paddy and Aoife are still getting used to each other. Paddy would always make me feel better and when Aoife came along I genuinely believed he would be her best friend too. But bit by bit they are getting closer – we’re getting licks on the head, and they now happily lie next to each other. “Over the years what I have needed him to do for has completely changed,” she adds. “He’s been with me when I lived alone in a flat, and has had to adapt to my life changing to include Dan and now Aoife. But he does it brilliantly, and I’m massively grateful to Support Dogs for turning him into such a perfect dog.”

With Christmas approaching, this will be the first time that Casey, husband Dan, and Paddy will be sharing their special festive occasion with Aoife, who will be nine months old in December. “Paddy and I absolutely love Christmas,” says Casey. “About four weeks before the day I turn into an excitable toddler and drive my family mad. I never sleep on Christmas Eve because I get so excited. And Paddy loves it because we have a massive family who come over and he gets loads of attention and usually unwraps everyone’s presents – including his own!” Casey is one of Support Dogs’ youngest clients, and she is often mistaken for his trainer when the pair go out together. Because of her relative youth and the fact that arthritis is not always visible and often associated with older people, she has encountered some people who don’t believe there is anything wrong with her. She recalls: “One time I was having a really bad day and we parked in the disability bay at Tesco’s. We were just putting on Paddy’s jacket when a man in the next bay rather nastily asked me if I was using my nan’s blue badge? “Disabilities are not always visible and there is not always an age limit. It’s the same with arthritis or epilepsy – they think if you can walk you’re OK. Some people just don’t understand, and I get very frustrated. They don’t realise what it took for me to get out of the house that day, and that I’d had to take four lots of painkillers. “One of the fantastic benefits of having a support dog is that they make people realise that they maybe need to re-think how they visualise disability.”

To find out more about Support Dogs’ disability assistance dog programme go to: www.supportdogs.org.uk



Please remember Support Dogs in your will and leave a legacy of life-changing work Life-changing epilepsy seizure response dog left by Mhairi Bruce

Ability to leave the house


left by Andrew Edney


Loving partnership left by Pamela Rogers


Safety and confidence left by Margaret Lound


One in four support dogs only exist thanks to the wonderful donations left by individuals in their will. This support has been vital to our charity for over 25 years. If you would like to make a difference to lives of those affected by some of the most challenging conditions,

while also helping us to give dogs a second chance, then please consider leaving a gift to Support Dogs in your will. By donating in your will leaving the legacy of a support dog partnership completely transform a life and often the life of

you are working that will family’s the dog

Be remembered for doing something


too, with many of our support dogs starting life in rescue centres or as unwanted pets. Leaving a legacy does not mean leaving out loved ones or friends. After providing for those who matter most to you, you can make a gift to the charity to fit your own personal circumstances.

If you would like more information about leaving a gift to support dogs in your will please contact Danny Anderson on:

0114 261 7800 or danny. anderson@supportdogs.org.uk or visit www.supportdogs.org. uk/legacy

Support Dogs’ merchandise Sitting dogs

Christmas Tree Decorations Large Christmas Tree Decorations £4.99



Chocolate Labrador £11.99


Dalmatian £11.99

Yellow Labrador £11.99

Standing dogs

Small Christmas Decorations £3.99 Dalmation £14.99

Pug £14.99

Yellow Labrador £14.99

Button Badge

Boxer £14.99

Key Ring



Order Form Item


Large Felt Christmas Tree Decoration Pug


Yorks Terrier

Fox Terrier

Small Felt Christmas Tree Decoration Fox Terrier




Address £4.99 £3.99




Standing Dogs Dalmatian Lab



Sitting Dogs Billy

Black Lab






Payment method



Key Ring


(Please tick)

Button Badge


Please complete the form and return with cash or a cheque payable to Support Dogs to:



N/A Total:


Support Dogs, 21 Jessops Riverside, Brightside Lane, Sheffield, S9 2RX or order online at:

www.supportdogs.org.uk 17

Sponsor a support dog When you sponsor a support dog you are helping us to transform the lives of adults and children with autism, epilepsy and disability. You now have the option to sponsor your dog for just ÂŁ5 a month, or to purchase one year of sponsorship as a gift for someone special for a birthday or anniversary. You can sponsor any of the dogs below or visit our website www.supportdogs.org.uk to see more.


Order before December 16th and receive a FREE Christmas dog toy and tree decoration with your gift sponsor pack.


Breed: Black Labrador Job: Disability assistance Home: Lincolnshire Birthday: 3 June


Breed: Labradoodle Job: Disability assistance Home: Manchester Birthday: 18 August


Breed: Yellow Labrador Job: Seizure alert Home: Cheshire Birthday: 5 August


Breed: Labradoodle Job: Autism assistance Home: Derbyshire Birthday: 19 January


Breed: Black Labrador Job: Seizure response Home: Gloucestershire Birthday: 3 April

With your support these pups have the potential to grow up to do something amazing.

When you decide to sponsor a dog you’ll receive three updates a year, a sponsorship pack including a special photo certificate of your new pal and a FREE cuddly support dog toy!


I would like to sponsor a support dog JUPITER


For Myself

SIMBA As a Gift




Giftee Name and Address

Make a Difference with a One-Off Donation.


£5 I’d like to donate by:




Debit/Credit Card



(Payable to Support Dogs)

Tel Card No.

Email Monthly Amount: £5


Card Holder Name




Valid From

Exp. Date

Bank Name & Address

Acc No. Acc No.

Sort Code Sort Code

CV2 No. (3 digits)

Payable to: Lloyds, 14 Church Street, Sheffield, S1 1HP. The account of Support Dogs Ltd A/c No. 03938225 Sort Code: 30-97-51 or please send a cheque payable to Support Dogs to the address below.


Starting on

Make your donations worth more at no extra cost to you! Simply fill out the declaration below and we can claim the tax back on your subscriptions and donations. YES - Please claim Gift Aid on all donations I have made in the last four calendar years, and until further notice.



To qualify for Gift Aid, what you pay in income tax or capital gains tax must at least equal the amount we will claim in the tax year (currently 25p for every £1 donated). Please notify Support Dogs if you wish to cancel this declaration. Please send completed forms to:

Support Dogs, 21 Jessops Riverside, Brightside Lane, Sheffield, S9 2RX

Thank you for your support

Profile for Support Dogs

Aura support dogs magazine edition 31 autumn 2017  

A collection of inspiring stories about our amazing clients and their dogs.

Aura support dogs magazine edition 31 autumn 2017  

A collection of inspiring stories about our amazing clients and their dogs.