You Won't Believe How This Dog Helps His Disabled Owner!
It's no secret that dogs are man's best friend - but we're still astonded by how far faithful pooches will go to make their humans happy. Mike Hardy, a disabled man from York, says his dog Chipper has brought joy back into his life.
Mike, who is from Wigginton, worked as an engineer in Zambia as a young man until he began to suffer severe back and leg pains in his early 20s. This was later revaled to be a tumour the size of a tennis ball, and had one week to pack his things and arrange all the medical discharge paperwork needed to travel to the UK or Johannesburg for surgery.
"Luckily, it turned out to be non-malignant." Mike said, "I had a month of hell in the hospital, as nothing from the waist down functioned. I worked like a man possessed to get vertical and on two walking sticks."
However in a cruel twist of fate, Mike - who is now 66 - later developed Anklosing Spondylitis. This is a severe form of arthritus which is painful, progressive and cannot be cured. Some joints of the spine fuse together and, as a result, Mike now uses a wheelchair.
It was a social worker who first suggested that Mike should consider brining a canine friend into his life, as a dog would encourage him to get out and about. Dogs are also thought to help ease depression, which Mike was suffering from at the time. He was put in touch with Canine Partners - who train and home service dogs to people with disabilities so they can enjoy greater independence. Canine Partners was founded in 1990, thanks to Anne Conway and Liz Ormerod, who had spent several years researching Assistance Dog programmes worldwide during the late 1980's.
It was when he visited the charity's HQ in Sussex that he was introduced to Chipper. And for Mike, it was like he'd found his soulmate:
"It was a bit like meeting a partner who you instinctively knew you are made for each other." he elaborated, "I remembered that feeling from when I met my wife Maggie. It was love at first sight and I was in no doubt that we were made for each other."
Chipper is trained by Canine Partners to help Mike with everyday tasks, such as taking off shoes and socks. The canine also helps with more advanced tasks such as taking Mike's money and bank card out of cashpoints.
18 months on, Mike is smitten with the adorable pooch:
"Chipper has changed my life for the better. I can honestly say that by having Chipper has made my life worth living and gets me out of bed. Since I have had Chipper, I have met more people and had good chats to them about him. Chipper is so obedient, alert and loving. Words fail me to describe what a good lad he is. People ask me what he does for me - I normally reply 'brings joy to my life'."
If you're looking for a dog or puppy, please consider adopting a rescue and take a look at our shelter directory!