“Walter gives me a sense of security as well as companionship”
The first week Carol and Walter spent together as partners she knew she was meant to take things easy and not overwhelm him too much. By the end of their first week together he’d accompanied Carol to work every day, come along to choir practice, helped her teach karate, been to netball as well as going out on a family outing – when he coped with it all by arriving at each place and going to sleep, Carol knew their partnership would work out just fine.
Walter arrived in Carol’s life in early 2017 and since then his help, loyalty, and companionship has become invaluable for Carol.
Carole works 4 days a week at a special school in Auckland maintaining the IT systems, training staff and teaching IT to the kids. She teaches karate, runs her own online business, is a mum to 2 teenagers, a wife, and she also has progressive multiple sclerosis which was diagnosed in 2013.
At work Walter helps Carol by putting things in the rubbish bin, opening the door, picking up anything Carol drops, like car keys, her phone, and her eftpos card. He accompanies her to the bathroom which is quite vital as they have needed to be rescued once or twice.
Walter responds to the command ‘speak’, which means he’ll give one single bark to get someone to come and help. As he is not supposed to bark, a single bark is very distinctive.
At home he helps Carol with getting her socks off, he fetches things such as her shoes or her cushion, he can get the TV remote control and open drawers, he helps with the laundry and he has learned to get clothes from the bottom of the laundry basket and put them in the top loading washing machine. He can also get things in and out of the dryer. Carol has tied some rope onto the laundry basket, and Walter pulls it into the living room so that she can sort and fold the clothes.
Having Walter gives Carol’s husband a sense of security when she is home alone, as well as out and about, as he knows that Walter is there to call for help if she needs it. Carol has also noticed a huge difference having Walter with her when they are out doing jobs or going shopping.
“When I go through the shopping mall people look at him and they smile at me and help me, they open doors and collect things off the shelf. Whereas before when I went out without Walter, I was stared at or ignored. Having him has helped hugely in that way. It’s like having Walter validates my disability.”
However, Walters favourite time is grocery shopping day. He thinks it’s fun to trot in and out from the car, bringing boxes of cereal, loaves of bread, even heavy bottles of shampoo, or bags of carrots. He knows to take it to the kitchen, and usually he is very gentle with it, only occasionally squashing the bread a little!
“I wouldn’t be as comfortable going out without him. I go out loads of places on my own, I teach karate, I go shopping, I got to choir, and I’m just that much happier because I’ve got Walter. Not only will people come and talk to me, but also because people I see regularly know what it means when he barks. Walter gives me a sense of security as well as companionship.”
Carol believes that she and Walter were meant to be a team – Walter had to be matched with her. Carol’s paternal grandfather was called Walter, and right up until the day he passed away, he had ginger/blonde hair the same colour as Walter’s coat. Both Walters even share the same birthday. Walter brings Carol comfort, security and independence in a way that only a family member could.