Until five years ago, I couldn’t really see the point of dogs. Although aware of many of the amazing things they can do, from herding sheep to sniffing out smuggled drugs, I didn’t feel the need to have one in my life.
Then, thanks to an extended campaign by my family, I found myself giving a home (or, rather, giving over my home) to a retired greyhound called Ginger. Though they make wonderful pets, greyhounds are far too aloof, or maybe too intelligent, to indulge in the sort of party tricks that help other breeds ingratiate themselves with humans.
Yet, like any dog, they bring something special into the lives of their owners.
Few people, however, develop as close a bond with their dog as Wendy Hilling and her golden retriever, Ted.
Wendy suffers from a dreadful skin condition called Epidermolysis Bullosa Recessive Dystrophic which makes her skin vulnerable to tearing and blistering in response to knocks that the rest of us would barely notice.
Without Ted, an assistance dog trained by Wendy and Canine Partners, Wendy well not have been around to write this book. Waking to find herself unable to breathe because her throat has constricted, it’s Ted who calls for assistance by pressing a button on the wall and then barking when the operator answers.
Remarkable as such stories are, it’s the sheer range of things that Ted helps with that will leave you open-mouthed with amazement or smiling. From bringing a towel when she gets out of the shower to handing over a purse to the supermarket checkout assistant, there’s no area of Wendy’s life that her faithful companion doesn’t get involved with.
The book covers Wendy’s whole life from the early years when the medical profession didn’t understand what she had, let alone how to manage it, to the arrival and training of Ted. It’s the kind of inspirational story that should persuade the majority of us to shake off our lesser troubles and attack life with renewed vigour.