The Countryside Alliance is proud to support the work of Dogs for Good, the charity that provides assistance dogs to support people in a variety of ways. As an organisation whose staff and members are dog lovers who live and work with dogs every day whether in the sporting field or on-farm, we are always keen to learn more about the work dogs do. Due to their incredible scenting ability and intelligence, dogs play many roles in supporting people, including with the armed forces and emergency services, as therapy dogs, guide dogs, dogs for the deaf, diabetes guardians or, more unusually, searching for water voles as the Ecology Dogs do, or sniffing our dry rot, as the Enviro Dogs do with great success. Here we meet Georgia and her spaniel Jetta, who was trained by Dogs for Good to support Georgia, who has cerebral palsy.
“Jetta has given me hope for my future. She makes me feel confident and brings me out of myself”, says Georgia (17) of her beloved assistance dog, beautiful working cocker spaniel Jetta.
Before Jetta arrived, Georgia was wholly dependent on her mum Sharon and her carers and found it deeply frustrating constantly to have to ask for help. Her movement is affected by cerebral palsy and she uses tripod sticks inside the house, but cannot bend to pick anything up and struggles to open doors.
As for going out, “If I didn’t absolutely have to, I wouldn’t go out at all. I was invisible,” says Georgia, “people would speak to mum and completely ignore me. It was as if they couldn’t see me sitting there in my wheelchair right in front of them.”
Having an assistance dog to help her seemed a perfect solution, but there was one major hurdle to overcome: Georgia was petrified of dogs. “But I was determined to try,” she says, “I really didn’t want a big dog; I knew I might find it easier with a small dog.” When Georgia was introduced to Jetta it was love at first sight. “I just fell for her, head-over-heels,” says Georgia, “she’s so cute and loving and I’m not afraid of any dogs now.”
Jetta came to live with Georgia and mum Sharon in 2015 and since then Georgia’s confidence and independence have continued to develop with Jetta’s help. Every morning Jetta gets Georgia’s day off to a great start by pulling the duvet off to wake her and then fetches the clothes she needs to get dressed. “She also opens doors and can help take off my coat, gloves, socks and shoes. She’ll pick up anything I drop and will go and get the phone and fetch the post and my shoes or slippers.”
Because Jetta needs to be exercised, Georgia is happy and positively enjoys going out now. “People see Jetta and come to speak to me and I enjoy telling them about what she does to help me.”
“Jetta’s always there for me, we’re inseparable,” adds Georgia. “Seeing how much Jetta can do to help me has given me hope that one day I could move out and live more independently. I’d like to learn to drive too. I would never have dreamt this might one day be possible without Jetta.”
To find out more about the charity visit www.dogsforgood.org
Feel free to send stories of working dogs, with photos, to [email protected].