Meet Shelley, from Bedfordshire

Posted 3 months ago in the Our partnerships category

Shelley has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. She was partnered with Kibble in January 2014.

Shelley was partnered with black Labrador Kibble in January 2014. This is her story:

I have a condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which is a lack of collagen so I dislocate from head to foot. Some days I can move around a lot easier but other days I am confided to my wheelchair.

I fall over very regularly and I drop everything. I can dislocate at ease by not really doing much at all.

Life before Kibble

I really noticed something was wrong when I was nine. I used to dance many nights a week and at the weekends. I noticed I kept dislocating my knees so my mum took me to lots of different osteopaths and physiotherapists.

They were baffled and just kept giving me different splints. It went on and on, being put down to the amount of dancing I was doing. The condition was not really known back then, so everyone was baffled as to what was wrong.

Before Kibble came along, life was fairly grim – especially about six years before. Dislocations were becoming very frequent and I was struggling to walk. I dislocated three discs in my spine and was unable to walk very well at all. I begun using crutches and a wheelchair more and more.

After experiencing disability discrimination at work, I had a nervous breakdown. I wouldn’t answer the phone, I wouldn’t open a door, and I went from being an extroverted person to someone very enclosed that didn’t want to do anything.

I relied on my husband and children constantly, which felt horrible. I changed from someone who was completely independent to having to rely on my children, who weren’t very old, needing them to help me get washed and dressed and to walk around.

I was very scared when they were out at school and my husband was at work, not knowing what would happen to me while I was at the house on my own. I wouldn’t go out without anybody. I then felt a real burden on them as well, because they had to do everything for me. It’s not nice having to ask your children to take you to the toilet. If my husband was at work the kids had to pick up things and make the dinners. It was very hard, I felt very useless.

Discovering Canine Partners

My son discovered Canine Partners when he saw Kate, who has the same condition as me, and canine partner Byron on the One Show.

He said “Mum, you can have a dog to look after you” and I thought no, you couldn’t have a dog looking after you that’s ridiculous. I didn’t think I was disabled enough to qualify.

A few days later, an application form landed on the doorstep as my son had gone online and applied for a canine partner for me. My family pleaded with me to fill in the form and the rest is history. The wait was very long but very exciting. I couldn’t believe my luck really.

Life with Kibble

Life with Kibble is amazing. Because he does so much for me I don’t need to be in my wheelchair as much, I can use my strength to do the things I want to do. He enjoys his work so much, it’s not as though he has to work all the time it’s play for him. When you go out you don’t feel like people are staring at you for you, they’re looking at how beautiful he is. When I’m down he knows when I’m down. He’ll just come over and have a snuggle. Having him with me just cheers me up constantly.

To have Kibble do personal things for me is so much easier and so much nicer than having to have a human do those things for me. I’ve got my independence back again and I’m never on my own.

It varies day to day what Kibble does for me. On a tough day Kibble will jump on the bed, help me sit up, pull my covers back and get me out of bed. He will get me my towel when I get out of the shower, he will help me get dressed and does my zips and velcro. He will load and unload my washing machine and tumble dryer.

He will pick up everything I drop, right down to a five pence piece. It absolutely amazes me what Canine Partners have trained him to do. He gets me my slippers, whether I want them or not, and will fetch me my boots. He helps me do the shopping and he gets me out in the fresh air. Kibble can also do an emergency alarm for me if I need help or fall down. I shout “bell!” and he presses it.

Kibble has had a big impact on my confidence and independence. I wouldn’t go out or answer any unknown phone calls. With Kibble, nothing is scary any more. He is by my side and I’m never alone. My confidence has come almost back to where it was and we go everywhere just the two of us, there is nowhere out of bounds.

Even though I can’t walk as well as I could and can’t go to work like I would like to, it does mean that I am 90% back to me which is wonderful. I never thought I would go back to being as happy as I was before and I am, he looks after me and I know I’m safe.

My life for my husband and children is back to normal. My husband is my husband and my kids are my kids. My husband used to phone me throughout the day and now I don’t hear from him really unless he needs something, because he knows if I need him Kibble will press the button or get me my phone so I can call him. He knows I’m safe. Both my children can go to school and university. Ever since I brought Kibble home, my son can go to school without worrying who would look after me. Their grades have gone up too. He’s had an effect on the whole family not just me.

I can’t imagine life without Kibble now. I don’t like to think about the day he will be retired, because he’s my right hand man and keeps me happy and safe. He’s so cheeky too. I couldn’t imagine life without Kibble and I wouldn’t want to imagine life without Kibble. He’s everything.

I can’t thank Canine Partners enough really. They told me he was cheeky and he is. He’s given me a happy life again. It’s amazing to have Kibble.

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