On Wednesday 16th December 2020 1 was pleased to present a cheque for €500 on behalf of the Royal Society of St George Charitable Trust to this worthwhile charity.
Whilst the lockdown restrictions at that time sadly meant I was unable to visit the charity, the use of Zoom allowed an online virtual presentation, which was also very helpful as the charity is based and operates solely on the Isle of Wight.
During the presentation I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Davis and his 2 year old Labrador puppy “Digby,” a chocolate brown bundle of soft playfulness that would melt the heart of any single minded cat lover.
Sentiment aside, the reason Digby had been placed with Steve was to train him to help young disabled people, which includes helping those with anxiety and autism. In fact the charity claims this unique puppy power provides help and support on a physical, social, cognitive, emotional and environmental level. Having met Digby I can see why.
The charity has received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and Carol Court the Founder and CEO said they “…currently have just over 30 working Ability Dogs plus others in various stages of training.”
The charity places a specially selected Labrador puppy at 8 weeks old with volunteer puppy parents like Steve who care for them in their own homes, fully socialise them and start their initial training. This helps them to familiarise with every day things and people.
The puppies are also taught how to walk nicely on a lead and respect basic commands to sit and lay down as well as to pick up items such as keys and return them to the owner.
Ability Dog Training
When they reach about 18 months this special form of canine capacity is trained by a qualified trainer to assistance dog level. They are matched with a disabled young person and the trainer ensures the dog knows the special skills required to help that person, including familiarising the dog with the environments that person visits. The young person is also trained how to care for their new assistant and they are fully supported every step of the way by the charity.
This requires a high level of training and support for the young person in their home location and at their place of education or work. The charity continues to support them throughout the working life of their Ability Dog. For example, as the young person changes or increases the things they are doing so the charity trains them and their Ability Dog for each new situation.
The charity takes the approach that whatever a young person’s disability, if an Ability Dog can help them they will endeavour to train one for them. Once an Ability Dog is placed with a young person it will help them until its retirement at 10-12 years of age and no matter how old the young person is at that time, if they still need an Ability Dog the charity will train a successor for them.
Who They Help
Based on the Isle of Wight, the charity concentrates on helping children and young people on the island up to the age of 30. There are over 700 children and young people under the age of 24 with a disability on the island.
Consequently the charity has its work cut out to help all these and yet this is a brilliant initiative that could benefit many thousands of similarly aged people across the UK.
For more information or if you would like to make a donation to this very worthwhile charity please see the details below:
Ability Dogs 4 Young People, 3 Howard Close, Niton, Isle of Wight, P038 2EB.
Telephone: 01983 216246 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.abilitydogs4yp.org.uk