A blind dog lover has gone back to basics in a bid to help her giant-sized puppy fill the even larger paws of her previous pooch who passed away last year.
Dr Nicola Hendey – who is registered blind and has cerebral palsy – is now hoping that with the help of Dogs Trust Dog School East Midlands Leonberger Arthos can step into the paws of fellow Leonberger Beeley, who sadly passed away last year.
Dog lover Nicola, who had been a senior research fellow at the University of Nottingham for sixteen years, gave up her career to care for the critically ill Beeley two years ago after he developed complications following surgery for a slipped disc.
When Beeley passed away, Nicola was devastated. But to add even more heartbreak, as Beeley had been by her side 24-hours a day for six years – helping with everything from emptying the washing machine, picking up things from the floor, bringing her the phone and helping her up if she fell – Nicola was completely isolated.
Now she is taking one-year-old Arthos to training classes at Dogs Trust Dog School East Midlands in Melton Mowbray in the hope that he will become her ‘lifesaver’, just like Beeley.
“Arthos is absolutely wonderful and loves going to Dog School,” Nicola says. “He gets very excited so one of the things we are teaching him is not to jump up to greet people! He is doing really well and I am very proud of him. My dogs really are my lifesavers and I couldn’t live without them. Losing Beeley was absolutely devastating and it also meant that I lost my independence.
“Leonbergers originate from Germany and are known for their gentle and affectionate nature. I have had four and they have all been wonderful and helped me through some very difficult times. My parents were killed in a car crash in 1998 and I had relied on them for so much, so I really struggled after their deaths. As a result a social worker came to visit me and had a Leonberger as an assistance dog. That was when my love affair with the breed began.
“They are incredibly loyal, learn quickly, are big, which is a great advantage as I am unstable on my feet, and they have brilliant personalities.”
As well as attending Dogs Trust Dog School, Arthos is training with Guide Dogs and Dog A.I.D. (Assistance in Disability).
To find out more about Dogs Trust Dog School please visit www.dogstrustdogschool.org.uk