Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Monday, 11 October 2010 15:38 UK
Canine Partner helps Malvern woman after road accident
Stella and Jenson crossing the road
Stella has a pelican crossing box in her garden for practise purposes

Stella Hewett was left permanently injured 12 years ago, after being involved in a serious road traffic accident.

Determined to turn every bad experience into a positive one, Stella began working as a volunteer for a number of charities, until her condition meant she was no longer able to go out.

It was at this point, she was told about the charity Canine Partners.

Stella now has Jenson, her assistance dog, helping her in Malvern.

The Charity

When it was suggested to Stella that she should consider an assistance dog, she hadn't even heard of the scheme: "I could not see how it would work, and was extremely sceptical that any dog could be of any use to me.

"He opens the drawers in the kitchen for me, he helps me to shower, get the towels for me, he helps me dress, opens doors for me, operates lifts for me - the list is endless.

Jenson doing the shopping
Every assistance dog costs 10,000 - and there's only 140 of them in the UK

"Jenson makes me smile every day and that alone is worth its weight in gold - he has literally transformed my life."

Since befriending Jenson, Stella is now working heavily to raise awareness of the charity that helped her so much.

To celebrate their first anniversary together, Stella has launched the Colour Wheel Appeal to raise £10,000 to sponsor a dog to help someone with a disability.

"I used to love long distance walking, and I've been up to the top of Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike and had lots of exciting physical mountains to climb, but the biggest mountain to climb really after my car crash has been the mental one."

Jenson getting washing out of the machine
"Jenson has turned out to be completely marvellous"

Heather Loan is one of the regional trainers of the dogs: "We have here some Labradors, we have some Golden Retrievers, we have Gold Labrador Cross Golden Retrievers, we've also got Labradoodles.

"We need dogs of that size - big enough to reach light switches, strong enough to pull people up in bed.

"We get donated a lot of dogs, we buy a lot of dogs, we breed a few and we rescue a few."

Abilities

Heather's training school teaches puppies how to do the weekly shop, tidy the house, empty the washing machine, close all of the doors and bark for help.

The charity is currently looking for 'foster parents' to look after the puppies, from eight weeks old, for a 12-month training schedule - before they head off to West Sussex for advanced training and partnering.

Jenson opening a drawer
"With Jenson there by my side, there isn't anything I wouldn't try to do"

"If you require assistance, we'll see if we've got a dog in the system that's capable of providing the help that you need - or maybe specifically train one up for your circumstances.

"A lot of people have accidents, they get ill, there are soldiers coming back from war zones with life changing injuries - there are lots of different ways people end up needing a bit of help".




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