A friend suggested to Linda-Lee she should apply for a Mobility Dog. Even though she didn’t think she would qualify she decided to give it a go anyway. It was a decision that completely changed her life.
As a child Linda-Lee was the first person in NZ to be diagnosed with Arthrogryposis, a condition of thickness and stiffening of the joints. In Linda-Lee’s case the affected joints are her hips, knees and ankles. She has muscle waste from her knees down and the arthritis caused by her condition makes her very stiff, which includes her ankles being almost fused. Going up and down stairs or stepping down off a curb is impossible unless she is holding on to something. As time went on Linda-Lee said she found she was feeling more and more disabled.
Prior to Covid Linda-Lee’s life had been very full doing various volunteer roles that helped to keep her moving and mobile but as she says,
‘Covid came and that all stopped. If I don’t move, I stiffen up and it gets harder and harder to move! It was a time when I felt quite alone. I wasn’t lonely as such, but all my family were outside of Auckland or overseas, so I lacked that feeling of connection.’
When I was told that I met the criteria for a Mobility Dog my heart was bursting with emotions, and it put the biggest smile on my face.’
On the day Darby and Linda-Lee met for the first time, Darby was wearing his harness. His harness acts as a stabiliser for Linda-Lee, supporting her as she walks.
They initially went for a walk on gravel, up some stairs and then over a grass hill. This was a huge achievement for Linda-Lee who had not been able to walk on the grass without the use of a stick for over 3 years, and she had not used stairs without a handrail for more than 6 years!
Linda-Lee says it’s hard to put into words the difference Darby has made to her life.
“My old confidence has returned, and I feel like my world has come back to me! I can do things that I haven’t been able to do in such a long time. He makes me feel fiercely independent again and able to give anything a go. But more than that – he’s given me my dignity back.”
“I would like to thank each one of you with gratitude, for your donations and support of Mobility Dogs. Without your support, I would not have this incredible dog who is allowing me back into the community to do the things I love, physically and with confidence. Darby has empowered me to have an inclusive life – he is my best friend and loved so much. A huge thank you to you all.”
Photo credit: Kirsty from dogandco photography