A few years ago, everything went a little Pete Tong, (wrong to my non-90’s readers!) and I was so grateful to one of my oldest friends when he let me crash at his and his wife’s house for a week. So I hopped on a plane and buggered off to New York for a week!
I have lost count of how many years I have known Gar for but while we may not speak every day, we can still chat, which I enjoy! Until I showed up at JFK airport I had not met his wife and was a little nervous. I really shouldn’t have been! I should have realised that he would have chosen, and in turn, been chosen by, an amazing woman who would bring out the best in him while suppressing the worst!
I met Cass and was greeted warmly by this fabulous woman who only knew that I was a friend of her husband and had invited myself to stay for a while! She welcomed me to her home and life straight away, then, bless her heart, let me fuss all of the pets! She seemed to know me straight away!
After meeting the cats and making a fuss of the dogs, she explained that they were service dogs. Her main dog, Paxil, and her dog in training, Eva (who sadly has been a little useless!) but they helped her every day. Pax was a constant reassurance and daily helper if she fell. Known as PSD in the US and PAD in the UK, Physical Service Dogs are a daily requirement for many people. (N.B. Pax was a Psychiatric service dog. Thank you Cass!)
They, like guide dogs, can be trained to do a number of helpful things. They can pick up lost items, help their person stand or help them up if they fall. They can open doors and drawers, answer phones and load the washing machine. Service dogs have also been known to help autistic children open up to their surroundings. They are used for people with epilepsy, as they can tell when an epileptic seizure is about to happen and can provide assistance or comfort, whatever is required.
The US has a rich history in understanding the need for service dogs. They are used for war veterans as help and comfort in times of stress. The author and successful dog trainer Lisa Edwards in her book ‘Boo!’ explains about how she trains service dogs for her life and the safety and security of others. Not content with just training dogs to help people with terminal and debilitating illness’s she also trains dogs that assist and comfort people who are sick or in their last years, she also trains dogs that assist children with learning difficulties, autism and other mental issues that require an understanding touch.
Yet for some reason, to the detriment of our people, the UK has no easily accessible access to service dogs, which has left Cass in a difficult position. She needs her service dogs, and with the retirement and passing of Pax, she now has no access to the help she needs.
I ask a small favour from you readers, if you don’t mind? Research service dogs, the work they do and the people that use them. Look them up and ask why this country feels we don’t need them. We have a rich history of the adorable guide dogs puppies with their tiny ‘dog in training’ coats, but we don’t spend nearly enough time or funding on these amazing dogs.
These dogs help those with many conditions including epilepsy, cancer, PTSD, arthritis and learning difficulties. Surely it’s better to spend a few measly millions training these dogs and helping people live normal, for want of a better word, lives than it is to spend billions trying to run after people who could be helped with a simple dog. Lest we forget that dogs are one of the most popular pets in the UK, is it such a stretch of the imagination to have those same dogs not just licking toes and stealing treats but also picking up shoes, retrieving phones and opening doors?
Please, for the sake of this countries people, and its sanity, do a little searching.