FIVE year old Golden Labrador Maisy enables disabled former nurse Bernadette Clutton, 55, to live independently.
The caring pooch is a trained disability dog and helps Bernadette undress, collects her emergency medication basket and can even help her roll over in bed, as well as switching lights on or off and opening or closing doors.
According to Bernadette, she would find it difficult to carry on without the amazing Maisy and the support of housing association Cartrefi Conwy.
Bernadette, who lives in Llanfairfechan, suffers from two prolapsed discs in her back as well as crippling arthritis.
She says that life was a terrible struggle until Maisy, thought to be the first disability dog in North Wales, came to the rescue.
Bernadette said: “Life without Maisy would be extremely difficult. My condition means no two days are the same. One day I’m barely able to move and can’t stand up and the next I can move about relatively easily.
“I rely on Maisy to do all sorts of tasks for me and I also have a great deal of help from my Cartrefi Conwy independent living co-ordinator, Ceri Davies.
“I had Maisy when she was a few weeks old. The charity, Dog AID (Assistance in Disability) which is based in Shrewsbury, provided a local dog trainer to come in and help train her
“She helps me get undressed and can take my socks, jeans or trousers and cardigan off. I have a gadget I use that helps me put my socks and trousers on. She can also pick up anything I drop.
“Maisy will help me roll over in bed if I can’t move and can turn lights off or on and open and close doors.
“She’s a lovely dog and has a wonderful warm and loving personality. The charity checks on her every year. Her food is very carefully weighed out and I have a dog walker that comes daily to exercise her.
“She has another five years as a working dog and hopefully I will have a new puppy to train. Gradually, Maisy will take a back seat and then fully retire but that’s a long way off thankfully.
“She has made a huge difference to my life and given me my confidence back. I’m much happier and can get out and about again now.”
Bernadette says her health issues started when she was a 15-year-old teenager after she suffered her first prolapsed disc.
She said: “I also suffered sciatica and then a second prolapsed disc in my back. And I now have arthritis in my knees and joints too.
“I rely on Maisy and Ceri Davies and I’m not sure I could cope without them. Cartrefi Conwy has been very good to me and provided hand rails around my home.
“The most important thing for me at the present time is having Maisy by my side. I know I couldn’t manage without her.
“Dog A.I.D is an amazing charity that has made a huge difference to my life. I’m so grateful for all the help and support I have received over the last five years.”
Cartrefi Conwy’s independent living co-ordinator, Ceri Davies, said: “Bernadette comes to me for emotional support and I help her as much as I can. It’s wonderful to see the relationship she has with Maisy and how Maisy helps her with everyday tasks.
“Whenever I call Maisy knows it’s me at the door and is always waiting with a toy, there is always a big, big welcome.”
Dog A.I.D fundraiser Kate Knight says the nationwide charity, which is based in Shrewsbury, has more than 100 dog trainers working with clients across the country.
She said: “We train dogs of different breeds. The client provides their own dog and we then send in a trainer to work with them. It can take anything from nine months to two years to fully train an assistance dog depending on its breed and the owner.
“Our dogs can do a wide range of tasks such as filling up or emptying a washing machine and dragging a clothes basket outside.
“They can go and get help in an emergency, find a mobile phone and of course, as in Bernadette’s case, help people dress and undress and pull a duvet over them.”
She added: “While we have more than 100 trainers nationwide we always need more. I’m delighted to hear that Maisy has made such a difference to Bernadette’s life.”
To find out more about Dog A.I.D please visit www.dogaid.org.uk