Happy International Assistance Dogs Week Noodle!! 

Usually I allow myself to write two soppy assistance dog posts a year maximum to prevent the readers of this blog having to endure an unreasonable amount of dog spam. Birthdays and anniversaries are perfect for over the top declarations of puppy love, though I confess that being in hospital has meant *Noodle and I’s qualification anniversary slipped under my radar this year. So let’s celebrate IADW instead.

This pasty-faced girl with an overgrown pixie cut/mullet is me back in December. I was about five months into my hospital admission when I got the news that we were winners of the Guide Dog of the Year ‘Beyond the Call of Duty’ category. I wasn’t well enough to go to the awards but Noodle and I became movie stars for a bit for the filming of this clip. I would love to have a go at making a similar video six months on because I am more able to get my point across now. The film was shot at Heron unit when I was paticularly unwell and I don’t feel like what I said gave Noodle justice. There’s a longer video too if you root around on YouTube; but even in the extended version I don’t think I managed it.

So this post is about Laila (AKA Noodle), and the fact that at 5am this morning she was helping me regulate my breathing. She puts weight on my legs to calm muscle spasms and stays there. She is always calm so there is a gentle breathing pattern for me to try to copy. She doesn’t get phased at all by my daily battles.

She’s been in ambulances and she’s gone mad for reasons I was unaware of at the time. She sometimes will start ‘acting up’ and take a telling off for being naughty because I’m not aware of the oncoming episode. Of course, once I have crumbled and rebuilt, I apologise for accusing her of any wrong doing, usually with a toy or a little bit of cheese.

Guide dogs didn’t give me this little miracle fully formed. She was an amazing guide dog and we were a brilliant team, but what happened for her to begin helping with my mental illness was slow and gradual. She always knew when I was going to go into panic or meltdown before I did but I just hadn’t been watching out for her ways of telling me. When I started listening to her the door opened to her being able to do so much more for me. As my illness has progressed I’m now dependent on her help. Fetching a bag with soothing items or meds in? Got it. Finding someone to help me in a crisis? Got it. Intercepting negative patterns? Got it! Literally watching my back when we are out? Got it! We learn new things all the time together. It’s actually hard to make a list!

If there is a way she can help me then she will do it and, most importantly, enjoy doing it. She reminds me of a doctor or nurse who swings into action in an emergency; movng quickly and professionally and getting a high from the urgency. Not to mention she is always very pleased with herself when she has successfully aided normality to be resumed.

In her freetime Noodle likes lying with her legs in the air, giving kisses and playing with her best friend and fellow guide dog Isla (above).

She’s seen scenes to rival a police dogs memoir and has the guts of a warrior. A very happy International Assistance Dogs Week to my best friend Noodle. You’re one in a million.

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