National Assistance Dog Week 2017

When I reached for a hand, I found your paw.


My name is Megan and I am 21 years old. When I was 15 I suffered an unfortunate head injury after fainting during a Remembrance Sunday service. After falling backward and hitting my head on the curb, my skull was fractured in three places and I was left with a number of life-long disabilities.

I now suffer with profound hearing loss to the left side, episodic blindness, dizziness, balance impairment, and frequent fainting attacks.

Living with these symptoms made it difficult for me to do everyday tasks by myself, but asking for help has never been my strong point. I would rather bend down to pick something up, knowing full well it will trigger a dizzy episode, than face the embarrassment of asking someone to help me.

I would rather stand silently on a busy bus, knowing full well that I am likely to pass out, than find the courage to ask a stranger for their seat; only to be told ‘No, you don’t look disabled!’. 


That’s where Ruby comes in, my life-changing Assistance Dog. I am honoured to share with you our story, in celebration of International Assistance Dog Week 2017.

Ruby is a seven year old Border Collie/Australian Kelpie cross breed, and was trained by myself with the help of Dog A.I.D (Assistance In Disability).

Ruby enables me to be independent, and greatly improves my quality of life, by helping me to do things that are difficult or unsafe because of my condition. Having Ruby means I no longer need to rely on others to help me, or struggle to do things alone.


Ruby loves her work and doesn’t mind if I drop things 100 times a day, she will be there with her sweet smile and wagging tail to pick it right back up. To her it is one big game, and she sure loves to play!


As well as retrieving dropped items, Ruby is able to reduce my need to bend down by passing me items of clothing, untying my shoe laces, removing my socks, fetching items from low shelves when shopping, and unzipping my tent when we go camping together!

She is able to activate pedestrian crossing buttons with her nose, allowing me to keep well away from the road edge when waiting to cross, and reducing the risk of fainting into oncoming traffic.


Thanks to Ruby I am finally safe in my own home, as she able to phone for help when I am unconscious. Ruby responds to my fainting attacks by activing an emergency button with her nose that is worn on my wrist. Once activated the K9 phone sends a text message containing my current GPS location to my emergency contacts. If they do not hear back from me within five minutes to say that I am ok, this means I am still unconscious or injured and need help. Ruby is able to answer the front door to paramedics when they arrive.


As well as helping me physically, Ruby has given me invaluable emotional support and companionship, helping me to fight the isolation that living with a disability can bring. She has also given me more confidence, I feel less embarrassed when asking for a seat on the bus, because Ruby acts as a visual indicator of my otherwise invisible disability.


My Assistance Dog is my best friend, my life-line, and my independence. She is by my side always, keeping me safe, and helping me to be the best version of myself. With Ruby by my side I feel stronger, I feel proud, and I am not ashamed of my disability anymore.


I am eternally grateful to Dog A.I.D, a small charity that enable people with disabilities to train their own Assistance Dogs, with the help of professional trainers who volunteer their time. It is thanks to the hard work of dedicated volunteers that the charity continues to thrive, and change the lives of disabled people across the UK. 


I would also like to thank Natures Menu for supporting Ruby in her life-changing role, she is truly thriving on her Natures Menu diet and loves every mouthful!

National Assistance Dog Week 2017

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