A wheelchair-bound woman has been given a new lease of life thanks to a lovable and helpful four-legged friend.
Sheila Sadler, 73, was left with limited mobility after a car accident in 1996 and has struggled with everyday tasks.
She was given Kerly, a bernese cross assistance dog, by Canine Partners in 2009, and he enabled her to get her independence and confidence back.
Mrs Sadler, of Trowbridge, said: “Kerly is my lifeline. His presence makes me a whole person, physically and emotionally, every day. He opens doors, calls a lift, gets items from low shelves and gives my purse to shop assistants.”
Mrs Sadler can stand up out of her chair by placing her hands on Kerly’s neck and rump and he will undo the fastenings on her shoes to take them off.
He can pull off bed linen and take the sheets from each bedroom to the washing machine, as well as opening the washing machine door, taking each item out again and placing them in a basket.
In 2006, Mrs Sadler met Canine Partners representatives on their stand at a disability roadshow, where they offered to assess her and her dog at the time, Juneau.
They became part of the Canine Partners training programme, but in 2009 Juneau died of a rare heart condition, devastating Mrs Sadler. A few months later Mrs Sadler received an email from Canine Partners saying they had a dog, Kerly, in advanced training that could be her new canine partner.
She said: “I am grateful to those who selected this special boy for me. Canine Partners are a great part of our lives now, providing us with many new friends to meet and to keep in touch with by email.
Her husband, John , 68, said: “I don’t have doubts about going out if Kerly is with Sheila because he can push a panic button. Our lifestyles were narrowing but he has given confidence to us both.”
The Sadlers now attend Canine Partners stands and demonstrations with Kerly to show people what an assistance dog is capable of.
Mrs Sadler said: “Kerly captures hearts and demonstrates with enthusiasm to audiences, from senior citizens to a group of five to seven-year-old Rainbows.”
For more information on Canine Partners, call 0845 658 0480 or visit caninepartners.org.uk