Watson the Labrador changed her life – and now she’s calling for more people to help us train more amazing dogs

WHEN Alex Cook met Watson, she knew he would change her life forever.

The gorgeous chocolate Labrador is constantly by her side, ready to help with anything she might need.

He could even save her life – as he’s been trained to fetch help in an emergency.

Alex, who has limited mobility due to spinal conditions spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis and caudae equine syndrome, had applied for the assistance dog from Canine Partners in a bid to boost her independence.

And since her four-legged best friend moved in with her in 2012 she needs to rely on carers less for everyday tasks including picking up items and getting dressed.

She also has more privacy as she is able to be left on her own much more as she knows Watson is able to fetch help in an emergency.

Alex, 55, from Patchway, Bristol, said: “I lost the use of my legs for all practical purposes. It was difficult to do a lot of things for myself including picking up things that I dropped and reaching for things in the supermarket.

“I was looking to get a dog when a friend told me about Canine Partners. Having Watson means I can do things that I couldn’t do before without a carer.

“He has given me more freedom and he allows me to be on my own a lot more. An assistance dog can give you back almost everything. He’s my legs and he’s my arms. He’s everything I can’t reach anymore.

“If I fall he will call the emergency services for me. He’s been trained to know exactly what to do. And whenever I’m ill he won’t leave my side.

“It’s impossible to put it into words because having Watson is just amazing. He’s not a pet – he’s an extension of me. I don’t feel like I can exist a day without him.”

Now the former paralegal is calling for more people to get behind the charity and help them train more amazing dogs like Watson.

It comes as Canine Partners launches a huge recruitment drive to increase their growing team of volunteer puppy parents.

They need more people to take on a trainee assistance dog in its first year and help with basic training, socialisation and obedience.

The volunteers provide early socialisation, taking the puppy into different environments and introducing it to different people, objects and animals so that it is confident and happy in any situation it may encounter when it begins working with a disabled person.

The extra puppy walking recruits will help the growing charity meet an increasing demand for its assistance dogs.

Alex added: “By becoming a puppy parent you have the opportunity to do something great for somebody else.

“A lot of people think there’s no way that they could spend all that time on a puppy and then give it up but once they see how much of a difference their puppy can make to someone it makes it all worthwhile. They will change a life and there’s nothing else like being a part of that.

“Plus, this is a way of always having a puppy as they get a new one once their first goes to the charity’s training centre for its advanced training.

“If you love puppies but you hate the fact that they grow up, this is wonderful. And when you see what you have done for someone else – that’s amazing.”

Canine Partners is hosting a special puppy party at Hanham Community Centre in Bristol High Street where people can find out more about being a puppy parent.

The event which runs from 1-3pm on April 6 will feature demonstrations from existing puppy parents and their pups and there will be a chance to speak to trainers and volunteers.

Puppy parents receive full ongoing support, both at their homes and at puppy training classes. Food, equipment, vet bills and temporary holiday care is provided.

For more information call 01730 716017 or visit caninepartners.org.uk/puppyparties.

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