A Girl’s Best Friend

toriI’ve heard of dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for people who are deaf……but meeting Multiple Sclerosis sufferer Grainne O’Connor and Tori, her disability assistance dog, was a proper eye opener this week. I was really moved by Grainne’s openness and honesty and thought it was a story worth sharing.

Diagnosed in 2001, Grainne’s condition has progressed to the point where she has very little strength in her hands. She often drops things and can’t manage everyday tasks like taking her socks off and emptying the washing machine.

Tori, a family pet, was checked out by Support Dogs, http://www.support-dogs.org.uk/ a national charity in Sheffield, to see if she would be suitable to train and support Grainne. Happily she passed the initial tests and received several months of training before Grainne was coached in how to get the best from Tori.

Support Dogs also train seizure alert dogs who can warn owners who have epilepsy of an oncoming seizure up to 40 minutes before it happens.

As Grainne says in the report shown on ITV Border’s news programme, Lookaround, Tori has made a huge difference to her life. She told me: “When you have a long term condition like MS you are on this journey that you don’t really want to be on particularly, your journey keeps getting interrupted because you can’t do something and you have to ask for help, all the time, throughout the day, and Tori, she just makes the journey a bit easier, we’re happy, we just get on with it……she’s a star!”

Click on the link to see black labrador Tori in action.