Meet Sandra, from Glasgow

Posted 3 weeks ago in the Our partnerships category

Sandra was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2009 and took early retirement from her job as a Psychiatric Liaison Nurse Manager. Her life was transformed when she was partnered with canine partner Bumble.

Sandra was partnered with canine partner Bumble in July 2015. This is her story.

It doesn’t seem long ago that I was getting on with my life as normal.  I worked as a Psychiatric nurse for thirty years and latterly a Psychiatric Liaison Nurse Manager, working with a team looking after people in crisis.  It could be quite a stressful job, but I loved it and thrived on the buzz.

I started to become unwell in 2009 and was quickly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  At the time I was adamant that I wouldn’t use a stick, then I wouldn’t use crutches.  However, as time has gone on I will use whatever it takes to help me get from A to B. I took early retirement in 2014, but until then I continued to work through some very difficult times.  I was devastated to have to leave my job, but now I look upon it as a blessing.  If I hadn’t left, I probably would never have applied to Canine Partners.

Meeting Bumble

When I heard about Canine Partners, I requested an application form but did nothing with it for a year – I felt there were other people who needed more help than me.  It was only when I met Carter, a beautiful golden doodle, with his partner that things changed.  I hijacked them for about an hour to talk about Canine Partners and her parting words to me were to apply, as I had nothing to loose – they could only say no.

Thankfully they didn’t say no and at every stage of the application process I found it hard not to get too excited.  In May 2015 I finally got the call to say that they had found a possible match for me, I didn’t even ask what her breed was – just her name.  Two days later we were on a flight to meet Bumble at the Southern Training Centre!  I remember first meeting Bumble like it was yesterday.  She sashayed through the door and it was love at first sight, she is such a pretty wee dog and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.

After the match was confirmed, I headed back to the Southern Training Centre in June for the most fantastic two-week residential training course.  It was one of the hardest things I remember doing for a long time and was totally exhausted from it.  However I met lifelong friends and a few months after returning home I realised what all that hard work was about – creating a partnership.

Life with Bumble

I cannot tell you how much I love Bumble and what a difference she has made to my life.  When I go out, people stop and talk about what Bumble does for me rather than avoiding the lady in the wheelchair.  Before Bumble I had lost all my confidence and hadn’t been out on my own for over a year, now I am never on my own with her at my side.

In the past I found it very frustrating when I dropped things, which I do frequently, as I had to ask someone else to pick them up for me.  Now, Bumble does this for me with her tail wagging and is delighted to help.  I also really struggled to get my clothes off which she does with ease, even putting them on the chair for me.  She gets me the phone, which is a huge reassurance to my family, as they know she can help if anything happens.  She also lifts the footplates on my wheelchair, something I cannot do on my own.

We had all got a bit wrapped up in what wasn’t going well with my MS, but Bumble has changed the focus.  She gives me so much love and makes me smile everyday when before I couldn’t always find things to smile about.  However, I always tell people that she isn’t a robot; she’s still a dog.  When she is working she wears her purple jacket with pride, but when it’s playtime she gets to run around the park with her friends.

I genuinely mean it when I say how life changing it is to have a canine partner.  She gives me unconditional love and although she melts everyone’s hearts, I love her the most.  I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today if it wasn’t for Bumble and I cannot thank everyone who helped to raise her enough.  In my opinion all dogs are amazing, but some are truly amazing – like Bumble and all the other canine partners.

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