Dogs for Good Speaker followed by Dinner - Host Gordon Turner

Wed 3rd May 2017 at 18.30 - 20.00

We were pleased to have three guests on Wednesday (3rd May 2017) to our meeting. Llynn Matthews and her sister Brenda came to tell us about Dogs for GOOD, they were accompanied by Christa – Llynn’s  Black Labrador  supplied to her by Dogs for GOOD.
The charity we were told was formed  30 or so years ago by Francis Hay who had bone cancer and obtained a dog to help her about the house. The dog was trained to help her dress, to retrieve things she had dropped and from those small beginnings the charity developed. Still only a small charity they nevertheless provide essential service to enable disabled people to live independently. They are a huge money saver, providing literally 24/7 service for a fraction of the cost of a human carer.
As well as home service, dogs are also being used in schools with amazing results helping to calm children who would find the school environment too stressful. Also we were told that there is a pilot operating in Scotland using dogs with dementia patients, again with incredible results.
In Llynn’s case, Christa helps her to dress as well as to pick up things she drops from her wheel chair. There does not seem to be any limit to Christa’s ability to retrieve things, from Llyn’s keys, her purse to a tiny sixpence and later in the evening collecting the cheque Mike presented to the charity.
After a short film showing us what the charity does, Llynn demonstrated how Christa could help her dress, firstly she helped her remove her jacket, then after Llynn had undone the laces of her shoes, Christa tugged them off her feet and then removed her socks.
We learnt that training begins by socialising 18 month old puppies, walkers take them out and expose them to buses, shops, traffic noise, busy crowded places etc. All of the Dogs have green “jackets” which identify them as Assistance Dogs, the jacket carries an official badge which entitles them to enter any premise, shops, restaurants  etc  when on official duty ! Training takes 14 months at the charities Banbury Centre  and then the dogs are paired with their disabled partner at Culcheth, Warrington.
Llynn said that training a dog costs £12,000 and Christa is her second dog which she will keep until she is about 10 years old and daily has to arrange for her to let off steam, they generally take her to the beach where she can run wild for a while along the shore. Surprisingly they are allowed to have 4 litters during their lifetime.
After a host of questions, President Mike proposed a vote of thanks  and presented a cheque which Christa picked up and gave to Llynn. Then to top it all Christa drew  Norman Jessiman’s counter in the Foundation Draw.