Meet Becky, from Cheltenham

Posted 3 months ago in the Our partnerships category

Becky has Cerebral Palsy. We matched her with canine partner Gino.

Becky was partnered with yellow golden retriever x Labrador Gino in September 2013. This is her story:

I have Cerebral Palsy, which occurred through premature birth and a lack of oxygen to my brain. It means I am unable to walk and use a wheelchair full time.

Before Gino, I felt frustrated and tired. Everything took triple the time and there were some things that I just couldn’t do or wasn’t confident enough to do on my own.

I felt lonely and really frustrated with myself and wanting to be able to do more but not necessarily wanting support all the time. I didn’t want to have another adult, carer or PA with me all the time, not that there is anything wrong with that but I’m very independent and always try to be as independent as possible.

Discovering Canine Partners

There used to be an event in Cheltenham called Paws in the Park and Canine Partners had a stand. I didn’t know what it was about but I saw this lovely dog and wanted to say hello.

I spoke to the lady stood at the stand and realised what the charity was and what it did. I said I would love a dog but I’m probably too able and she looked at me and said “no not at all, you would be the perfect type of candidate because you need to take care of the dog as well in the partnership” and that was it then!

I went home and filled out the form, then waited for what seemed like ages. I was on the waiting list for nearly two years, which is a long time but well worth the wait.

Life with Gino

Life with Gino now is so much better, so much easier and I have much more confidence in my own abilities. I can do so much more because I can conserve my energy. All of the little things that would take ages, like opening my back door to go outside, it was such a mission by the time you had done it you wanted to just go back to bed.

Not being able to close my own door meant I couldn’t go out on my own. Even just being able to go the corner shop on my own is amazing and being able to get things off the shelf without having to ask another human being. Even simple things like passing my purse to the cashier means I don’t need to worry about dropping all the money, because I used to get so nervous and worry about making a fool of myself. I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Everyone always says “Your dog is so beautiful and so clever” and it makes me really proud. I am so proud of him, which then gives me the confidence to know I’m doing the right thing. I am much more confident now to express myself to people. I’m very protective of Gino and know what’s right and wrong for him, now I’m not afraid to stand up for him and myself. It makes me feel stronger and more part of society.

An amazing partnership

Not relying on other people anymore is really freeing and like I’m my own person. I can stand on my own two feet (excuse the pun!) or my own four wheels, whichever way you want to look at it. I am me on my own.

I couldn’t have asked for a greater canine partner than Gino. I can’t imagine life without Gino. What I love about our partnership more than anything is that I know he wants to do what he does for me. He’s not being forced and he does it because he genuinely cares. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that before from anybody, that unconditional love.

If he thinks for one second that I’m in trouble or something bad is going to happen he’s right there. He doesn’t necessarily know what to do other than to put his paws on my shoulders to give me a hug and lick me all over, but that is his way of showing affection! You couldn’t ask for anything more really.

Thank you to the charity and to everybody that enabled Gino to become part of my life because he’s made it so much better in so many ways. He wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the people that did that for him and for me, so I’m very grateful.

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