Assistance dogs charity, Canine Partners, is currently facing a £1 million hole in its fundraising income this year.
Like many charities, the pandemic put a stop to a host of income-generating activities. The team are currently focused on supporting their existing clients, many of whom are among the most vulnerable in their communities. Both training centres have been temporarily closed and all dogs in training have been placed with volunteer foster parents. In short, the current pandemic has impacted on every area of the charity’s operations. The longer term impact is yet to be quantified.
How canine partner Misty is providing a lifeline during lockdown
Canine Partners has been helping physically disabled people to live with all the benefits of their tailor-trained dogs for 30 years. One such person is Dominique, who lives in the West Midlands. She is 26 years old and she has multiple conditions that have a big impact on her day-to-day life. She says that having Misty has made huge positive physical changes to her life. In the past few months, Dominique has been shielding and she is not alone in describing this very scary situation as a morbid prospect. But for Dominique, it has brought back old and painful memories.
“Before coronavirus and before my partnership with Misty, having a disability and illness that can be extremely severe and paralysing meant I was, and am, very familiar with being housebound and bedbound for a prolonged period of time. Being forced into this scenario due to a global pandemic is truly unnerving.”
Sadly, in addition to exacerbating her anxiety levels, Dominique’s pain levels have also increased, having a direct impact on her general mobility.
But there is one key, fundamental difference to Dominique’s experience this time.” I have the beautiful and uplifting companionship of my canine partner, Misty.”
“Misty is my rock and a constant calming presence”
Within the first week of lockdown, Misty could definitely tell circumstances had changed and would not leave her side. “Now – she is my rock and a constant calming presence. If I begin to feel on edge or am finding it difficult to “switch off”, Misty just comes over and gives me the biggest cuddle. Physically, due to my lessened energy and heightened pain/dislocations, Misty will happily and effortlessly pass me items I have dropped, open doors for me and carry items to me that I’m having difficulty holding.”
The two of them are bonding by training and spending quality time together. Misty is busy learning new skills including emptying and filling the washing machine and searching the house for Dominique’s emergency medipack.
Dominique admits that, prior to having Misty, being housebound would have pushed her into a really negative space. “However, now, I wake up every morning with a purpose! Misty needs me, just as much as I need her!”
“Isolation is no stranger to individuals in the disabled community”
“I sincerely hope that people of the UK, and globally, learn from this isolation and global pandemic,” continues Dominique. “In particular, I hope individuals who are experiencing being in self-isolation for the first time, will remember how it feels and utilise this experience to help shape their actions and outlook going forward. Isolation is no stranger to individuals within the disabled community. We often spend years isolated – emotionally, physically and socially – and often have no one to turn to and no one who understands. Now, on a national and global level, millions of people understand what it is like to be trapped in your homes, removed from social interaction and controlled by limitations on your daily routines.
“I wholeheartedly hope that this will prove to be a turning point for those in and out of the disabled community and that this collective experience shall add to a collective empathy and understanding for individuals with disabilities – helping shape the way we actively support this community going forward.”