Lisa (Mum), Stuart and Jess
Canine Generated Independence (CGI) are a Not for Profit Organisation helping around 100 disabled people ranging in all types of disabilities, including Mental Health, Autism, Physical Disabilities and Medical Alert. CGI enables owner trainers to train their own assistance dogs and have them tested by assessors for obedience, mitigating tasks and public access safety. To date they have over 30 qualified assistance dogs and many more to follow.
l myself have an Autism Spectrum Condition and have been training my dog Jess, who is a Sprocker Spaniel, with the help of my Mum and CGI - where he helps to track me when I go wandering as I often disappear when things get too much, I have been lost a couple of times and Jess has found me, this helps Mum because I don't have great communication skills and won't always answer when people call my name or I won't tell people where I'm going. Jess also helps with crossing roads safely as I have no awareness of dangers and I will just walk across roads into traffic, Jess stops me from crossing a busy road by pulling back. He also helps me when I find social situations too stressful by sitting on me and providing weight which helps to calm me, this also helps me at night time with going to sleep, its called deep pressure therapy. Jess helps me when I have meltdowns as I can become quite violent but Jess knows how to calm me, he is my best friend - it was Jess that helped with me talking, as I have to do the training too so I need to speak or he won't do what needs to be done, Mum taught Jess intensive interaction where Jess will take the toy I'm playing with and this gets my attention, but for me to get it back I've got to speak and ask Jess to stop, drop it and leave it. If I want him to bring me the toy back, I have to ask him to pick it up, bring it, drop it, then leave it. Jess does lots of fun things too like opening the doors in the house, picking all my things off the floor when I come home from school. He is so much fun. I am going to do the Wee Wander (a sponsored walk) but that's a marathon to me as I find walking really hard, staying focused on one task for such a long time is really difficult. I want to raise as much money as I can for Canine Generated Independence because without them we couldn't train Jess and without Jess my life wouldn't be the same.
Jan and Whisper
I have owned Whisper, a Welsh x Border Collie, since she was 17 months old when I was asked to find her a home due to chasing sheep. I was experienced at rehoming dogs as I had been fostering for a charity for a number of years, so within half an hour I recognised that this little girl was very special and decided to keep her. I was already a qualified instructor in obedience and took her along with me to the club. Within a very short time she had taken and passed her Kennel Club Good Citizen Bronze, Silver and then Gold Awards. I was also taking her into care homes, nursery schools and primary schools in a social and educational role. She loved fuss and cuddles and had a natural ability to seek out those that needed her.
I have Arthritis and Fibromyalgia amongst other issues which cause me to be in constant pain combined with extreme fatigue at times and has led me to need a wheelchair for much of the day. I was already on a waiting list for another Assistance Dog organisation but in 2016 I found out about CGI and immediately filled in an application form. Within 24 hours I had a phone call from them and as they say, the rest is history. I became a trainer for them shortly afterwards and then in 2017 became a trustee.
Whisper passed all of her assessments with relative ease and became qualified in February 2017, just in time to attend Crufts. She has taken everything in her stride and likes nothing better than flying the flag for CGI at events and when I go into schools and colleges to educate young people about Assistance Dogs. She demonstrates how she helps me to open and close doors, empties the washing machine, and helps me undress. In shops or out and about she picks up anything that I can't reach including tin cans or bottles, no easy task, or anything that I drop or need brought to me. She also needs to be able to settle under a table or by my chair for extended periods and be able to ignore anything else that is going on around her, including other dogs.
I cannot imagine what life would be like without her, both physically and emotionally. She knows just when I need a cuddle or when to be gentle because I'm in a lot of pain.
Tracey and Casey
Well what a year for my boy for finally completing his assistance work exams and becoming a fully qualified assistance dog and getting his qualified jacket. Starting in July this year he started competing in Obedience competitions and placed well and achieved all these rosettes. To top it all of he finished the year with the best news ever that we had qualified to be part of the WELSH CRUFTS TEAM, never would I have thought in a million years that's where we would be, it was always just a far off dream.
Well done Casey, you've come so far in such a short time, so proud.