Assistance dog Bindi is worth her weight in gold for a Wellington woman

Assistance dog Bindi is worth her weight in gold for a Wellington woman
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The assistance dog Bindi made a difference for Wellington-based author Helen Fletcher, who suffers from multiple autoimmune disorders.

Ross Giblin / stuff

The assistance dog Bindi made a difference for Wellington-based author Helen Fletcher, who suffers from multiple autoimmune disorders.

Helping dog Bindi, with her golden fur and soft eyes, changed Helen Fletcher’s life.

A Wellington-based author, Helen suffers from multiple autoimmune disorders that affect things like her balance, eyesight, and ability to sleep.

From picking up her keys and carrying her cane, to leading her to a chair when her vision fades and helping her up when she falls, the Golden Labrador is worth its weight in gold.

Before Bindi slept heavily on her legs at night, she would get up and move around the house in response to the hallucinations she had suffered since she was a child.

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Bindi sleeps on Helen's legs to prevent her from getting up at night and hurting herself.

Ross Giblin / stuff

Bindi sleeps on Helen’s legs to keep her from getting up at night and hurting herself.

She had been seriously injured on several occasions, once when diving into her closet door after hallucinating a man shooting bullets through her window, and often waking up with big bruises after wandering the night in her room. apartment.

Now Bindi just lies down on her legs so she doesn’t get out of bed.

“If I see things and she doesn’t react, it’s okay.

After learning about service dogs from a friend who watched a documentary, Fletcher began the process of getting a service dog, including fundraising and waiting on their current waitlist of five. years.

Bindi and Helen were paired in 2018, and since then, Helen has been sleeping better than ever.

Ross Giblin / stuff

Bindi and Helen were paired in 2018, and since then, Helen has been sleeping better than ever.

Applicants must wait to reach the top of the list, but also for a dog that would meet their needs. Bindi was recommended for an adult rather than a child, playful and cheeky, but sometimes lacking in self-confidence, but perfect for Helen.

Two years ago the couple were introduced and Bindi became a close companion.

This gave Helen more independence and the ability to live a more normal life, as she writes children’s / young adult books, teaches creative writing and takes Bindi to story time at the local children’s bookstore. .

The closet door in Helen's hallway into which she dove head first to escape the hallucination of a man with a gun outside her window, locks of hair still caught in the splintered wood.

Ross Giblin / stuff

The closet door in Helen’s hallway into which she dove head first to escape the hallucination of a man with a gun outside her window, locks of hair still stuck in the splintered wood.

His new book featured a service dog, with the dog on the cover coincidentally looking like Bindi.

“She stabilizes me if I start to waver.” She would also feel if Helen’s blood pressure was dropping – something she wasn’t trained for, but had learned – and would take the lead in her mouth and pull.

During the Covid-19 lockdown earlier in the year, when Helen spent 12 weeks at home alone because she was immunocompromised, Bindi saved Helen from a fall.

Bindi was trained to pick up objects when Helen cannot bend over due to low blood pressure.

Ross Giblin / stuff

Bindi was trained to pick up objects when Helen cannot bend over due to low blood pressure.

Bindi could also guide Helen to a chair when temporary blindness set in.

She used her cane less these days and felt safer in public, as Bindi would always be by her side to guide her home, to a chair, or to seek help.

They visited the park several times a day, and one of Helen’s neighbors had commented on how more confident Helen seemed.

“A big part of my mind was to assess the risks.” But not much more.

Assistance Dogs NZ Trust receives no government funding, relies on donations and grants, and with their waiting list now over five years, they are growing beyond their current capabilities.

The organization is holding its appeal week from October 1-4, and Helen and Bindi would take to the streets with the collection bucket.

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