“It is amazing how much better you can feel about yourself when you are supported. It is even more wonderful when you are given the gift of independence. And that is exactly what my dog has done for me.”
Gail’s journey with Mobility Dogs began in 2007 when she was matched with a beautiful Black Labrador named Audi. Audi worked tirelessly alongside her, but sadly in early 2009 Gail lost Audi to cancer.
She was devastated and vowed she could never have another dog. Mobility Dogs kept in touch and suggested that when Gail felt ready they would do everything possible to find another dog for her.
In late 2009 after many conversations with the General Manager Jody and Senior Dog Trainer Natalie Ramm, Gail finally agreed to a Meet and Greet with the new dogs coming through the training. It was around this time that many of the dogs were being integrated into the Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility under the Puppies in Prison Programme.
Gail was introduced to a beautiful Golden Retriever named Echo – well Echo introduced himself to her, and the rest is history. They were placed together once Echo had completed his training. Gail was very surprised how switched on Echo was and she believes the prison training was way above what her first dog had.
“I am so grateful to the Department of Corrections and to Mobility Dogs for their insight in setting up the Puppies in Prison Programme. It not only helps people like me living with a disability, but also improves the ability of their Prison Handlers to achieve success in themselves.”
When she looks back at the time she was without a Mobility Dog, she can now see much she went backwards and how she become a recluse in those 9 months.
“It is amazing how much better you can feel about yourself when you are supported. It is even more wonderful when you are given the gift of independence. And that is exactly what my dog has done for me,” says Gail.
Echo was retired in November 2015 due to some health issues. He worked tirelessly from the first day they were together – pulling her in the wheelchair, picking up things, opening doors and cupboards, loading the washing into the machine, bracing her for transfer, carrying items, paying for things over counter just to name a few.
“I did not think a dog could be better trained than Echo, but Coda was a set above. I can attest to the Puppies in Prison programme working. I see it every day in my dog. Coda and I are inseparable. Coda is purely an extension of myself.”