“He’s my little sidekick in everything.”
When Kim was 27 she fell over in the bathroom and broke her knee cap badly. After she came out of the cast she found that it was hard to wiggle her toes and her leg had pins and needles. When she went to the GP Kim couldn’t tell the difference between the doctor touching her foot with a pin or with cotton wool. She was sent to a neurologist who diagnosed her with mitochondrial disease. This means that her body makes less energy causing Kim’s optic and audio nerves plus the peripheral nerves in her lower leg to not work properly.
Cooper and Kim were partnered together in April 2017 at the Mobility Dogs camp.
“I’m young and I didn’t want a walker and I didn’t want a stick. I don’t have a wheelchair, I have a Mobility Dog. He keeps me going, he stops me having falls and he helps me when I need him”
Cooper has been trained to do several standard tasks such as being able to open and shut doors and cupboards, but he has also been trained specially for Kim. If Kim falls over he allows her to use him as a brace so she can use him to stand up again. (see image below)
“He offers me uncompromising companionship – because I’m home a lot, the security of having him there is huge for both me and my partner. And he also gives me independence. It’s a relief to my family and friends to know that if something did happen I’ve got him there – because he will get attention just as much as another person.”
Kim has found that when she is out with Cooper people are more likely to come and talk to her, plus he makes her feel more comfortable to engage with people as he gives them something to talk about. Kim believes that people are more open to talking to someone with a disability when they’ve got a dog as the dog acts as the conversation starter, and makes a disability less frightening and confronting.
“It’s like Cooper gives my disability a legitimacy, plus he also gives me never-ending loyalty.”
Cooper not only helps Kim when she is out, but she has found there are many emotional and psychological benefits that he brings as well.
“He just seems to know when I need a little cheer up. I feel like I get less depressed because of him. He kicks me out of it because he needs attention and I’m responsible for him, and he makes me feel less alone.”
Cooper has become a part of the family for Kim and Adam and is loved and valued by them as much as a child would be. So much so that Kim is about to redecorate the spare room for Cooper.
“Cooper is part of who I am, and it is wonderful knowing that Adam loves Cooper just as much as I do.”
Kim has taken Cooper along to the Girl Guides and to local schools to help teach children about service dogs. She finds it rewarding to see those children going on to teach their friends and family about ‘service dogs’. She also loves being able to show the community and potential donors the benefit that a Mobility Dog brings to her and her life.
“I just wish I could say a personal thank you to everyone who has donated to Mobility Dogs because without them I wouldn’t have Cooper. Your donation has enabled me to do so much and to live more independently. There is so much more I can do now because of him.”