Dog Collars – Wednesday 5 May 2021

Alvin the dog with a dog collar

Dog collars

We were sent a story about dog collars yesterday that we think you’ll rather like. It comes from our friends at Dogs for Good and is a story about one of their assistance dogs, Alvin. He has a very important job to do. It’s a great example of the important work the charity is doing. They place assistance dogs for a variety of needs. They are currently supporting over 300 assistance dog partnerships, which is great. We love seeing all the ways our fellow canines can help by working alongside humans.

Here it is in their words:

A Dog Collar with a Difference

A vicar at a North Yorkshire church is no longer the only one with a dog collar after welcoming a loyal four-legged parishioner to the congregation. 

Assistance dog Alvin from the charity Dogs for Good was placed with Andrew Newton (53) two years ago because he has MS and he lives with his wife the local vicar Rev Ruth Newton of St John’s Church, Sharow.

Dogs for Good is a UK-wide charity that creates life-changing differences for people living with a wide range of disabilities and conditions including autism, physical disabilities, dementia and learning disabilities, through the help of a specially trained dog. The charity’s assistance and community dogs enable people to live more independently.

Meet Alvin

The handsome golden Labrador, who has been expertly trained by the charity, was placed with Andrew because he has Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and he helps him to maintain his independence by carrying out a variety of useful tasks.

Alvin opens and closes doors for Andrew, retrieves items he’s dropped and fetches the TV remote or a blanket. Andrew also taught Alvin to know the difference between a shoe and a slipper so that he can fetch his slippers for him. He can also put down and push up the footplates on Andrew’s wheelchair and help him to get dressed or undressed. 

Alvin learning to close a door

Since being matched with Andrew, Alvin has become a regular at St John’s where he’s well-known and much loved by the congregation and many others in the village where he’s made countless friends.

In fact, Alvin is such an important member of St John’s that when recent renovations were being carried out to fit automatic doors the button to open them was placed at the right height for him to reach. Alvin’s also been blessed by the Priest who delivers Holy Communion services at the church. 

Well Known Dog

Andrew said: “Alvin’s known everywhere I go. He’s become a very well-known dog here. The members of the congregation think he’s such a nice boy, he’s loved by everyone. He’s a good-looking lad and very well behaved. Many people are a little bit in awe of him, especially if they have their own dog and he or she is a bit naughty!

Sometimes it can take me an hour to walk 300 yards through the village because I meet so many people who recognise Alvin and want to say hello. And although I can’t get anywhere very fast some days, I do like the sociable side of having a dog. 

Having Alvin with me means that I meet lots of new people every day. There’s always someone to talk to, which is great.

Listening to Music

As part of his training Dogs for Good instructors took Alvin to several different churches. They needed to make sure he would be OK with the sound of a church organ, for example.

Andrew explains: “He’s been trained so well. He is not easily distracted and manages to stay focused even when we are at church surrounded by lots of people and noise. 

“Nothing seems to phase Alvin and he loves to work. He’s a fast learner, too
. With guidance from Dogs for Good on video calls, I’ve even been able to get him to do a few more things – including shutting doors – during lockdown.” 

Alvin can even pick up a bank card for Andrew should he drop it when he’s out and about. “He paws it with his foot until it flicks up. Then he gently gets it in his teeth and gives it to me. Such a clever lad.

Working things out

“He wakes me up every morning with a great big lick. Then waits for me to give him a stroke.  I can only use my left hand so I’ll hang my arm out of bed and he walks under it, backwards and forwards, and gets it done that way.  As I say, a clever, clever lad and I wouldn’t be without him.  

“From the moment I wake up to the time I close my eyes at night, Alvin is by my sid
e. He helps me make the most of every day, bringing a few laughs along the way. He makes me feel much more confident to travel a bit further afield. I know he’s there to pick things up for me if I drop them or to help with the footplates on my wheelchair.

“He’s also given me so much companionship and a real sense of purpose because I need to take him out every day for a walk, even when I don’t really feel like it!  Alvin is a big part of the picture of helping me to maintain my independence for as long as possible.”


For more information visit: dogsforgood.org

We’d just like to say well done to Alvin. He doesn’t live very far from us so that makes him extra special.

Love

Wilma