“My best mate Lochy is the best thing that has ever happened to me”

    Masterton 16-year old Stanley Dickson, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, talks about what it is like having a mobility service dog.

    It’s easy to see why dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend . . . they are so darn loveable.
    I’m lucky enough to have two dogs. While one of them is a bit ditzy, the other one is incredible. His name is Lochy, a golden retriever – he is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

    Lochy is a “service dog” who has been trained by the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust. He is with me 24/7, including when I am at school.

    He can do a heap of things that I really struggle with. He can pick things up off the floor for me, take my socks off, carry stuff, open doors and cupboards, get me my shoes. He’s so clever he can even tell the difference between my black school shoes and my casual shoes.

    He does all these things for me, and all that he asks for in return is lots of cuddles and praise – which I just love doing anyway.

    But where he helps me the most is being an incredibly loyal and trusted friend, my best friend. Where ever I go, he comes with me. When I’m feeling a bit grumpy or sad, he is there by my side.

    I feel very lucky to have Lochy in my life. I am so grateful to the Mobility Dogs team for making this possible. And also my family – mum and dad, and my older brother and little sister – because Lochy is not a pet, he’s a working dog and they have all been really supportive keeping me on track.

    There are so many people like me who would really benefit from having a mobility assistance dog.
    It takes two years and around $50,000 to train a Mobility Dog. Training starts pretty much from the day they are born. At 8-12 weeks old the puppy is placed with a family for up to a year. For much of their second year puppies are assigned to an inmate in prison where they are taught a lot of the commands that they will need. The dogs are fully trained when they are about two years old.

    I was paired with Lochy in March 2018 and we got to know each other over a two week period at a camp in Auckland. Ever since then our bond has grown stronger every day.

    Mobility Dogs do an amazing job. The team really understand what it is like having a disability and work so hard to make it possible for people like me to have a dog.

    I really hope that more people like me can also get to have a big, furry, four-legged friend.
    I feel so lucky to have Lochy.