Healthcare & Assistance Dog - Willow
Tibetan Terrier-cross Willow has been nominated by DOG A.I.D (Dog Assistance in Disability) for being an amazing support to Ruth Spurr, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Willow is very vital in Ruth’s everyday existence and is her little lifesaver and lifeline. Ruth told us: “Willow is always by my side, helping with the daily tasks, the medical alerts and keeping me safe, out of hospital and stable.”
Willow was trained by DOG A.I.D to be Ruth’s medical alert and assistance dog and the organisation has helped Ruth and Willow get to the place they are today. DOG A.I.D supports their clients to train their own dogs by pairing them with a trainer in the local area. This means they can use a bond which already exists between the client and their dog.
Laura Ward, Ruth and Willow’s course trainer, believed in them when others didn’t and on the days Ruth thought “I can’t do this.” Laura said: “No, you can. I believe in you both. We are going to get you there and one day Willow will wear the jacket for real!”
Willow didn’t just learn to assist and alert Ruth, she did more than that. Ruth told us: “She saved my life in medical emergencies and, emotionally, she’s given me hope again. She’s given me light in the darkness and, most importantly, a reason to get up in the morning. Thanks to Willow, I haven’t given up and I’ve kept fighting.”
There is a very subtle but critical change in smell and in Ruth’s scent which means Willow can alert Ruth to important and incoming medical episodes, including POTS (an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing) and MCAD (a rare genetic condition where a person has problems breaking down fat to use as an energy source). Ruth said: “She’s saved my life on more than one occasion because of this.”
Willow helps Ruth get dressed and undressed, she opens doors, fetches her medication bags and passes notes between Ruth and her carers. Willow will also pick up items Ruth drops next to her chair but can’t reach due to the pain it brings. “Willow is always there by my side to lend a paw, literally,” Ruth added.
Ruth went on to say: “I am blessed every single day; I can’t help but just look at her and smile. I think ‘how lucky did I get? How lucky did we both get to find each other?’”
“When I say she’s my lifeline, it’s not just medically and practically, but emotionally too. Her four little paws come on to my bed and give me a thousand and one reasons not to give up. If it wasn’t for these small but four incredible little paws; my lifeline, my best friend, my partner in crime, my Willow, my superhero assistance dog always by my side, I would not be here today.”
If you think Willow’s hard work means she deserves to win the Healthcare & Assistance Dogs category, putting her in the running for the title of Autarky Hardest Working Dog 2021, then make sure you cast your vote here.