CANINE Partners celebrated the end of a record breaking 2013 by transforming the life of a woman in East Lavant.
The Heyshott-based charity partnered 67 disabled people with assistance dogs over the past 12 months, raising the total number of partnerships across the UK to 260.
Joanna Hill, of East Lavant, was partnered with her assistance dog, Derby, toward the end of last year.
Joanna suffers from chronic regional pain syndrome as a result of a road traffic injury.
“Derby has been life transforming,” said Joanna.
“The list of jobs he does for me is endless but it is his willingness to learn new things that constantly surprises me.
“It is so very humbling to watch him as he helps me every day and all through the night.
“The biggest thing he has done for me is allow me to be on my own.
“Before Derby I needed carers or someone to be on hand, now I am less reliant on others.
“It’s been a fantastic change to my life.
“Crucially, Derby has changed how my children see me and allows me to do more for them and with them.
“He’s a huge part of our family now, I wouldn’t be without him.”
Canine Partners boss Andy Cook said: “It is a fantastic feeling to have been able to change the lives of 67 disabled people by matching them up with our special assistance dogs last year.
“It is also amazing to think that as recently as 2005 we were only helping 12 disabled people a year.
“We have only been able to make such rapid progress because of the amazing help we receive from a whole army of volunteers and supporters, helping us to achieve our work.”
“But there’s still a huge amount for us to do.
“We want to get closer to meeting the demand that exists for our dogs from people whose lives have often been turned upside-down by disability and who are frequently lonely and isolated.
“We have big plans to help even more people in 2014.”
Dogs are carefully matched to every applicant’s needs and lifestyle and are trained to help with everyday tasks such as opening and shutting doors and getting help in an emergency.
For further information visit www.caninepartners.org.uk or phone 08456 580480.