Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable degenerative disease, so I felt lost and a little alone when I was diagnosed with it in 2001.  Many daily tasks such as picking up dropped items, opening doors, gates and more become increasingly difficult.  Asking people to pass items to me, pick things up or open doors is a constant reminder of the condition, however kind people are. 


I was at a disability road show when I first met Canine Partners, who had a stand there.  After successfully being assessed and applying for a canine partner, I made a few visits to the National Training Centre in West Sussex to meet some dogs - which is where I hit it off with Daxi.  This was later followed by a two-week residential training course, where we learnt a tremendous amount and got to know each other properly.

Daxi is now with me 24 hours a day and we are never more than a few feet apart.  We know each other really well now and can read each other easily.  If I am feeling particularly bad, he’s right by my side keeping a close eye on me. 


I depend on him for all sorts of practical things.  He picks up things I drop such as my spectacles, cheque book, pens and money and he fetches things for me.  He opens gates and doors; he supports me if I fall.  However, just as important to me are the emotional and psychological benefits I get from the partnership.  He can tune in to my general mood every day and adjust his treatment of me as to how I feel.


Becoming disabled is a life changing experience.  Having been very active in the past, running my own business and being generally very busy, I now find myself on my own a great deal of the time and can feel very isolated.  Simple tasks become really challenging and I sometimes feel like it’s easier not to try.


With Daxi I have more structure to my day.  I have always loved getting out and about into the countryside, so walking Daxi twice a day gets me out again.  Having him with me gives me the confidence to go out more, to try new things and to meet people.  What’s more I feel safe and my wife is less worried now that he is with me.


I get periods of great pain, particularly late at night.  Daxi helps me through this by getting up and comforting me by sitting at my feet.  I am never alone, even if he is not doing a specific task.


Having Daxi with me transforms the way other people treat me.  It really eases the way strangers act towards me and gives us something positive to talk about.  Having him around really cheers me up, as he’s so full of life.  Seeing him thunder through the woods when he’s off duty really lifts my spirits - I may not be able to run about myself, but I can share the fun he has.


Daxi is a loyal and trusted friend.  Only recently I was teaching him to fetch my various shoes and slippers using treats to reinforce the lesson.  Later that same week my wife was buying slippers in a shoe shop, with me and Daxi in tow.  Suddenly as we entered the shop, Daxi had a concentrated and excited expression on his face.  He was looking at all the shoes and working out how many treats they would be worth if he brought them all to me!



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Latest News

First BIG Bluebell Dog Walk
Our first BIG Bluebell Dog Walk of the season took place this Sunday in London, launching a record number of walks for 2014. There are 14 walks to choose from all over the country with the first at leafy Eltham Park South, Eltham in London. Organiser Julia Milligan invited walkers to join her for the hour-long stroll through the bluebells at the Glenesk Road park from 10.30am. The BIG Bluebell Dog Walk enjoyed a scenic hour long walk to raise funds and awareness for the Charity.

Solidering On with Steve and Kizzie
Saturday night saw one of our favourite partnerships take centre stage at the Soldiering On Awards in Central London. Steve and canine partner Kizzie were honoured at the annual event and named winner of the Soldiering On Canine Award 2014. The former Royal Navy Petty Officer had won a public vote to take the title. Readers of the Sunday Mirror as well as the huge family that is Canine Partners supporters and volunteers chose the partnership to lift the coveted title.

Passing the baton for Canine Partners
One of our partnerships and two puppy parents have been chosen to play their part in the Queen's Baton Relay as part of the celebrations for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer. Zoe McLean and Remus and dedicated puppy parents Lorraine Bonnar and Graham Smith have been selected to carry the baton on its way to launch the XX Games. The baton left Buckingham Palace on 9 October last year and will travel to 70 Commonwealth countries before it arrives in Scotland for the opening ceremony in Glasgow on 23 July.

CEO's Blog

The London Marathon - an alternative view

Andy Cook - Monday, April 14, 2014
Well what an amazing day!! If anyone ever gives you the chance to take part in the London Marathon, grab it with both hands first, and think of the pain afterwards, as a necessary evil of participating in a once in a lifetime experience. I never dreamed my name would get pulled out of the hat - only one in seven do - and I must admit I had very mixed feelings when it did, last October, as your life is then committed to a winter of training. But w  Read More

Canine Partners’ Leicestershire Training Centre

Canine Partners needs to raise £3.1million to build a second Training Centre in order to train more dogs and change more lives.

We have purchased a site in a village called Osgathorpe, halfway between Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Loughborough, which has a range of barns, outbuildings and associated land. The plan is to replace the barns and adapt some of the outbuildings to create the specialised buildings we need.

Having a Midlands Training Centre will not only increase our output, it will also make the charity far more accessible for those on our waiting list who are unable to make the long journey to our centre in West Sussex. 42% of the applications we received last year were from people living in the mid and northern regions of the UK. Many of our existing partnerships will also benefit from being able to receive support from the new centre.

The site will consist of a training centre and office facilities, fully accessible accommodation and kennelling.

This is an extremely exciting time for Canine Partners and we would be delighted to receive your support.

For more information about this project, please contact Cat Harvey on 01730 716018 or email catharvey@caninepartners.org.uk

Jobs available at the new centre will be advertised on our Vacancies page here: Work for us

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