Assistance dogs help people with a disability live a fuller life. We raise a paw to black Labrador Sailor, his owner Caroline and the wonderful work of Dogs for Good.
Incredible things happen when you put dogs and people together. And where better to see that special partnership in action than with an assistance dog and their owner living and working as a team?
These incredible dogs are carefully trained by Dogs for Good to help people with physical disabilities or developmental issues such as autism handle everyday tasks.
Of course, it takes the right kind of dog to do such an important job. Breeds like Labradors and Golden Retrievers make great assistance dogs because they’re sociable and good at forming close bonds with adults and children. They also have strong but soft mouths, which are ideal for many of the tasks they carry out.
Sailor is a beautiful two-year-old, black Labrador who has given RSPCA Inspector Caroline her independence back after a life-changing stroke in her 30s, which left her with a number of disabilities.
They’ve only been together a few months but thanks to Sailor, Caroline can now get out and about more easily on her walking sticks and go where she wants, when she wants. Her confidence is growing every day.
She says: ‘I walk very slowly and need a dog that’s steady on the lead. That’s one of Sailor’s exceptional skills’.
‘At the moment, we’ve got a basic set of tasks that Sailor can do. Now it’s a case of adapting them.’
Happily for Caroline and her partner Simon, it turns out that Sailor is a bit of a whizz in the garden. ‘We’re doing a bit more in the garden right now,’ Caroline explains. ‘So we’re working with Sailor to fetch the trowel or bring my weed tub to me.’
Sailor’s very favourite thing? He loves doing the laundry and goes around the house looking for more things to fetch and put in the washing machine, even when nothing has been set aside.
As Caroline says: ‘Sailor has brought back to me bits of my life that I never thought I’d get back. He spurs me on to do more and more. We already have an incredible bond.’
Sailor has built another heart-warming bond too – with Eric, a 13-year-old rescue dog who belongs to Caroline’s partner Simon. At first, Caroline and Simon were unsure how well the two dogs would get on, but as soon as they met, it was clear they would become friends. Eric and Sailor are now great buddies and enjoy competing over who gets to sit in their favourite seat. Sailor even plays tricks on Eric to try and get his own way!
Even though it has only been a few months since Sailor joined Caroline, Simon and Eric, it’s clear that laundry-loving, chair-stealing Sailor has already made a huge difference to all their lives.
How we support Dogs for Good
Dogs for Good helps up to 70 dogs change people’s lives each year. However, the charity gets at least 5,000 applications for assistance and would like to help more people.
At Petplan, we’re incredibly proud to support Dogs for Good through our charitable foundation. We help with funds to train puppies to become assistance dogs, and we also support a lifetime partnership, which costs around £23,000 for ongoing training and support for the dog and the owner.
Find out more about Dogs for Good here.
We work in partnership with the UK's animal charities and have seen first-hand the devastating impact Covid-19 is having on their income and the vital funds needed to support the animals in their care. For over 30 years we have been providing 4 weeks free insurance for rehomed pets and giving 10% of rescue pet premiums back to animal charities. In June, to help support animal charities through the Covid-19 crisis we paid over £700,000 in funds that our partners would have received from us in the next 6 months now, in one lump sum, to help them get through the pandemic.