In the scenic town of Bournemouth, an extraordinary initiative by Helpful Hounds Assistance Dogs is making waves in enhancing the lives of children with various conditions. This charitable organization harnesses the unique abilities of dogs to significantly uplift the quality of life for these young individuals.
Financially bolstered by contributions from BBC Children in Need, the organization’s impact is evident in numerous heartwarming stories. One such tale is of Izzy, a young individual grappling with complex conditions like autism and ADHD. Izzy’s bond with her assistance dog, Jessie, is nothing short of remarkable. “If there’s a noise, she will help me and make feel calmer. Jessie is very important to me, she’s my best, best friend,” Izzy expressed with heartfelt sincerity.
Carla, Izzy’s mother from Poole, highlights the profound effect Jessie has had on her daughter. “Jessie is a focus point for Izzy, once Izzy is out and about and things become overwhelming, Jessie is there for her – which helps to reduce her anxiety.”
Another inspiring story comes from Carmela in Wiltshire, who lives with muscular dystrophy, a condition that limits her mobility. Her canine companion, Tinker, has been a beacon of independence and joy in her life. “When I was young without Tinker I felt moody, sad, alone and I just generally didn’t feel very good. But with Tinker now, she makes me feel happy, excited and definitely makes me laugh,” Carmela shared with a smile.
Lucy, Carmela’s mother, also acknowledges the invaluable role Tinker plays, especially during the challenging teenage years. “We know what teenagers are like, they don’t want their mum to get involved with too many things so having Tinker being able to do certain things for Carmela is a huge help for me, so I don’t get my head bitten off.”
Vicky Mansfield, a trainer with the organization, emphasizes the critical nature of the bond between the assistance dogs and their young companions. “The relationship and bond between the person… and the dog has to be really quite solid. We want to make sure the dogs are able to keep the children… feeling happy, content and grounded. It’s hard work and the Children in Need funding in particular has been fundamental to our help over the years – so keep supporting us it really helps us.”
Through the support of the community and initiatives like BBC Children in Need, Helpful Hounds Assistance Dogs continues to create a world of difference for children facing unique challenges.