Life with a Canine Partner

Lorraine Harrison, 46, from Plymouth in Devon was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 18. She is married to a Naval Officer in the Submarine Service who is sometimes away from home for long periods, and she has a young daughter, Abbie, to look after. She was unable to get dressed or undressed by herself, and many other simple tasks became a real struggle. However, help came from an unexpected source... in the shape of a golden retriever called Moray.

canine partnersMoray is an assistance dog trained by the charity Canine Partners, and he has transformed Lorraine’s life.  “Since having Moray,” she says, “life has become much more fulfilled.  Without Moray, my little girl Abbie would have had to step in as a young carer and coping would have been very difficult indeed.  A canine partner has ensured that I can retain my independence which is very important to me.

“Moray is able to do a multitude of tasks that many people take for granted: he draws the bedroom curtains, fills/empties the washing machine and he is especially good at changing the bedding as I don’t have the strength to do this on my own.  On one occasion I fell in the kitchen and Moray did exactly as he was trained and went to fetch the telephone for me to call for help.    

“When we are out shopping he not only gets tins and other items off the shelves for me, but also puts them in the basket.  Then at the checkout he will unzip my handbag, and get my purse out ready for the cashier.  When we return home he is ready and waiting to start unpacking the bags.  He will then open the fridge, drawers and cupboards for me.”

Canine Partners trains around 55 dogs a year to help people like Lorraine lead a more independent life.  There is a waiting list of two years, as more and more people with disabilities apply for one of these very special canine carers.  The Charity receives no government funding, and relies on the generosity of individuals, organisations and businesses to support their work. It takes between 18 months and two years to train a canine partner. 

Lorraine’s husband, Mark, is also grateful for Moray’s help.  He says: “From my perspective, Moray has given me absolute peace of mind which is fantastic.  Having him at home has allowed me to continue to serve with the Armed Forces.”

Caroline JephcottCaroline Jephcott, 35, from Gloucester is a young mum with a toddler who also has reason to be grateful to Canine Partners, as she and her family rely on the help of Labrador, Yasmin. She explains: “Yasmin is a big help with the baby, fetching nappies and baby clothes for me. She follows him about and lies down in front of him to divert his path from stairs or the television. She also tidies up his toys at the end of the day, something that would take me two hours using a helping hand but takes her one minute!

“I am totally wheelchair bound at the moment and cannot even walk to an object two steps away.  Not only is Yasmin acting as supernanny chasing my son about where I can’t, but she also busies herself helping me get up and down from the floor so I can try to play with my son.  She is an assistance dog whom I could not be without, but she is also our dog who makes us very happy and is part of the family.”

If you think you might benefit from having a canine partner, then please call 01730 716043 or