A DIAGNOSIS of MS 13 years ago turned Arthur Findlater’s life upside down. An able, fit and practical man, Arthur had to adjust to a new future of steadily increasing disability.
In 2008, he discovered Canine Partners and was given Daxi, an assistance dog, to help with everyday tasks from shopping to fetching the post.
Now this partnership are celebrating a prestigious prize– the Canine Partners’ Platinum Award – only the third achieved in the charity’s history.
With help from young neighbour Chelsea, Daxi has learned to complete a range of complicated tasks that showcase how remarkable a dog he is.
Arthur explained, “There were things on the platinum award that I couldn’t do myself so Chelsea helped with all of those. She was amazing. She was very quick at learning to teach Daxi and she came round every day for about an hour for three months.”
“Daxi loves working but it is very difficult. Even the most patient carer is going to get hacked off when I throw the pencil on the ground four times in a row. With Daxi if I drop it again he’ll pick it up again every time.”
As well as the constant companionship and the special bond that they share Daxi also helps Arthur in more subtle ways.
“People find it difficult to know how to talk to me, but with a dog people find another thing to talk about. I’m no longer that funny man in the wheelchair, I’m the man with that lovely dog.”
Despite his usual discipline Arthur also added “When you take his lead off he becomes a normal hooligan dog, and to see him running around the park is very uplifting.”
Daxi is now seven years old, and eight in August. As a puppy he received three months of intensive training at the Canine Partners’ training centre and then a further two weeks when he and Arthur were partnered so they could learn to work together.
Canine Partners hopes to raise funds for more of these amazing dogs and holds sponsored yearly bluebell walks, including this year, to raise the charity’s profile and to help train more dogs.
Donations can be made via Arthur’s Just giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/arthur-findlater or in person if you happen to spot Arthur and Daxi out and about in Cirencester.