This lovely English Cocker Spaniel kindly donated by Flamebeau kennels has presented a first for Canine Helpers. Dexter, with his trainer Nicole Hargreaves, achieved his Companion Dog obedience title with the Canine Control Council during his time preparing to become a Service Dog. Competing in Obedience Trials has helped improve Dexter’s ability to work under high distraction and to do so without food available. These skills are very valuable in his new placement as a Service Dog and we are very proud to say that Dexter is the first Canine Helpers-trained dog to get an obedience title. The staff here at Canine Helpers (and Dexter's new owner) would also like to take this opportunity to say "NO, Cocker Spaniels are NOT stupid!!!"
Me and Dexter
Dexter was placed with me in April 2005, and we've been inseparable ever since. While Dexter only does a few of the long list of tasks that service dogs can be trained to do, what he does for me is vital and keeps me independent and mobile.
Mostly, Dexter picks up things that I've dropped or can't reach. This can be anything from a 5c piece to a large bottle of water, but is most often my wallet (even when I don't know I've dropped it), keys and money. He can get things that have rolled under a table, or even under my wheelchair or my car. He carries it for me until I can take it from him, and he'll either sit and hold it for me to take, or will hop up with his front feet on my lap so I can take it from him higher up.
He also opens and closes doors and drawers at home and at work. All of these save me from bending, leaning and twisting, movements that I find difficult and painful. He also has a harness so he can pull me around places like shopping centres and hospitals (a smooth floor), so I don't have to push.
Having Dexter has made a huge difference to me. Shortly after I had him placed with me I was able to resume full-time work. I have been able to do a lot more since we've been together, including quite a bit of travel. Dexter has been on planes, trains and automobiles, ferries and chair lifts! We even went skiing!
Having Dexter to help me means I can save my efforts for more of the fun things, and we've had a lot of fun together. Dexter also makes sure I take him to the dog park, so we both get some exercise, and we have met a lot of great people in our time together.
I wouldn't be without him, and I can't thank Canine Helpers enough for giving him to me.