Owner’s dog is taught new tricks
A DOG is being taught a new trick so that she can raise the alarm if her disabled owner needs help.
With the help of Stafford and Rural Homes, Millie, a two-year-old Labrador, has learned how to press the button to raise the alarm if Paul McKenzie falls ill.
Paul, of Castle View in Derrington, is a brittle diabetic with severe neuropathy, meaning he gets light headed easily and is at greater risk of fall at his home.
“I’ve had Millie with me at home since the middle of June and she is extremely good company. When she isn’t working she behaves like a normal dog and the bond between the two of us grows stronger all of the time,” said Paul, 45.
Paul is a customer of Stafford and Rural Homes and the social landlord has provided the Lifeline alarm equipment.
Millie, who was provided by the charity Canine Partners, helps Paul to get dressed and undressed as well as picking up his post.
The Lifeline system means in an emergency the Labrador can trigger an alarm linked to a control centre that operates all day, every day.
“I asked SARH for a blank alarm box so Millie could learn how to press the alarm button and they were extremely helpful,” said Paul.
“Knowing that Millie is able to use the alarm is a huge comfort to me and has made me feel a lot more confident in my home.”
Following Paul’s request for an alarm to train Millie, SARH has now decided to provide more of its older units to Canine Partners so they can train other dogs in the same way.
Linda Williams, SARH Lifeline Control Centre Manager, said: “When Paul got in touch with us we were more than willing to provide our old equipment to help train Millie.
“It also got us thinking that if our old equipment could help one person why not provide more directly to Canine Partners so they can help train other dogs and potentially provide greater safety and security to others across the country in a similar situation to Paul.”
Jenny Moir, spokesperson for Canine Partners, said: “During advanced training our dogs are taught to activate different types of alarm and panic buttons so that when they are partnered with a person with disabilities they can really offer security and peace of mind.
“The kind donation of old alarm call buttons from Stafford and Rural Homes ensures that our dogs continue to be trained for life-saving tasks.”
Paul and Millie have also started visiting SARH customers in Independent Living Apartments throughout the borough so they can enjoy Millie’s company and find out more about the support and comfort assistance dogs provide.
“Millie has already made a big difference to my life and I felt that other SARH customers might also benefit from her company. The visits are also a good opportunity for people to ask me about assistance dogs and how they can help,” said Paul.
Canine Partners is setting up a new satellite centre for the Staffordshire area in Burton-on-Trent, which will include a regular puppy group and fundraising committee.
If you are interested in becoming a puppy parent or would like more information on the charity please call 08456 580 480.