Me and My Pets - Angela Cooke and her support dogs Freya and Siân
PUBLISHED: 00:00 26 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:19 26 October 2016
Angela Cooke, who lives in Doncaster with her husband Peter and son Daniel, tells us how two incredible dogs have changed her life
Freya and Siân have made such a huge impact on my life that they are not only much loved pets, or even just my assistance dogs, they are my guardian angels.
I grew up owning animals. When I was younger, I lived in the countryside where we had everything from dogs and chickens to peacocks and golden pheasants.
I have various health issues caused by diabetic complications, hyper-mobility syndrome and I have limited vision owing to laser treatment.
I was at a routine check-up at my doctor’s surgery when I first saw a support dog. I hadn’t heard of the charity so when I got home I immediately searched for its website. As I scrolled down the list of tasks a support dog could assist with, I thought to myself ‘I need all of these’. I contacted them the same day.
Siân is our pet lurcher-cross (we’re not sure what she’s crossed with but she’s beautiful). We’ve had her since she was ten weeks old and she was accepted on to the charity’s training programme at two years old to become a fully qualified disability assistance dog.
She retired from her support role two years ago and we got yellow labrador Freya from Support Dogs after her family could no longer care for her.
Siân is the dominant one in the household, and rightly so. Freya is much more laid back and submissive, but they are the best of friends.
Freya loves a game of fetch with her favourite ball and sometimes even chooses it over a treat. Meanwhile, Siân is learning to relax in her retirement and much prefers a pull toy as well as long walks with the family.
Both dogs have given me huge confidence and allowed me to be independent. They not only support me physically but emotionally too. Before having an assistance dog, I hadn’t been into town on my own for four years.
Freya really enjoys helping me with my socks (even when I don’t need her to!) and also helps me to take off my jacket. She picks up dropped items, barks to alert people if I fall and loves pushing the button with her paws to operate the doors when I visit the hospital.
When my father-in-law became terminally ill in October 2014, Freya visited him in hospital and automatically went to the bedside and placed her nose close to his hand. She did this every time we visited, lifting his spirits and ours at a very difficult time.
I truly don’t know what we would do without Siân and Freya. I look at them every day and think ‘you’re awesome’. w
Support Dogs is a national charity based in Sheffield. To find out more, visit supportdogs.org.uk