My dog can't do the washing up, but that's OK because I have a wife for that.  The dog does do a huge amount for me though - he'll pick things up that I drop, take my coat off, fetch things I need, pick up the phone and open and close doors.  When you've broken your neck and can't grip anymore that's a huge help.

He's a Springer Spaniel called Jerry.  My wife and daughter got him from a rescue centre; you never know the history of a dog from rescue places, but we do know that he'd been abused.  He definitely landed on his feet when he came to live with us and now he's part of the family.

My dog can't do the washing up

I'd heard about a charity that works with you to train your own dog to be an assistance dog and it appealed straight away.  There was an initial few weeks of training, and then we had to go back for monthly assessments.  Jerry was very easy to train as he'd do anything for food!

As a qualified assistance dog, Jerry can be with me pretty much 24/7, even in the cabin of the plane when we go on holiday.  The first time we took him on a flight he curled up and went to sleep under my seat, and on takeoff slid along the floor and ended up in the row behind us.  I think the people there were a bit surprised as you don't usually see dogs on planes, but he's a little cutie and everyone succumbs to him.  We used to fly quite a bit and the cabin crew all got to know him; where we'd be buying our meals, they'd be giving him any that were left over.  He'd just roll on to his back and let the stewardesses make a fuss of him.

Stephen and his assistance dog

The one thing I wish is that he was a little bit taller as he's too short to take the money out of the cash machine.  I can punch the numbers into the pad, but can't grip the notes so have to ask a passerby to help.  He's not like a guide dog, in that I might not have something for him to do every day, but when I need him he's there.  One of his tasks is to go and get my asthma inhaler which is kept by the side of my bed.  I can be anywhere in the house and he'll go and get it and put it on my lap.  When you are gasping for breath you don't mind that there might be a bit of dog slobber on it!

Jerry is there for me when I'm at my most vulnerable, when I'd be stuck without him.  But even when he's not working, he's really good for me as we have to get out of the house twice a day for walks.  Too many people stay indoors all the time and forget that there's a life out there.

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