Keith Mitchell and dog Tilly
THEY say that a dog is man’s best friend . . . and, for Keith Mitchell, that’s certainly true.
Keith, from Erskine, has cerebral palsy and is a full-time wheelchair user who can’t bear any weight.
He was recently partnered with Golden Labrador Tilly through the Canine Partners charity after carrying out research to discover how an assistance dog might be able to help him.
And 27-year-old Keith said Tilly has transformed his life.
He told the Paisley Daily Express: “I have always loved dogs but to realise that I could have the companionship of a dog that would also help me physically was amazing.
“Before Tilly came along, if I dropped something, I would have to wait until my parents or carers arrived to pick it up.
“Now I have Tilly and she picks up everything that I drop. She also opens doors, pushes lift buttons, hands over my wallet at high counters and so much more.”
Canine Partners is a registered charity that assists people with disabilities to enjoy a greater independence and quality of life through the provision of specially-trained dogs, whose well-being is a key consideration.
They are trained to help with everyday tasks such as opening and shutting doors, unloading the washing machine, picking up dropped items, pressing buttons and switches and getting help in an emergency.
Keith’s match with Tilly is only the charity’s 10th in Scotland.
It has grown its operations north of the border and now has a base in Stirling, a Scottish fundraising committee and puppy training ‘satellites’ in Paisley and Stirling.
Keith added: “Now I have Tilly, I get out and about in the local community more and meet people whilst I am exercising her.
“It has given me the confidence to venture further afield and she accompanies me everywhere I go, including the Disability Resource Centre in Paisley.
“Without Canine Partners, I wouldn’t have Tilly and, without Tilly, I wouldn’t have a fantastic companion.
“Tilly has transformed my life and I would like to thank Canine Partners, who are an amazing charity.”
Dale Gormley, Canine Partners’ Scottish fundraiser, said: “We are delighted to announce the placement of our 10th Scottish partnership.
“The team of staff and volunteers in Scotland is working tirelessly to build our profile, raise funds and attract more volunteers so that Canine Partners can help to change the lives of more people with disabilities.”
Canine Partners is always looking for more help, either through volunteering or fundraising. To find out more, call 0845 481 1915 or visit www.caninepartners.org.uk