Meet Kevin, the ex-rescue centre dog from whose life is being turned around as he trains to become a hero support dog.
The yellow Labrador is in-training with the Sheffield-based national charity Support Dogs, after arriving from Dogs Trust last October.
He’s only two years old but already Kevin has been on quite a journey.
After his original owner was unable to care for him due to a change in their circumstances, the much loved dog was handed over to Dogs Trust so that he could find a new permanent home. It was only a matter of days after he’d arrive that staff at the rehoming centre recognised the wonderful pooch’s potential and teamed up with Support Dogs, who often train ex-rescue centre dogs to become life-changing assistance dogs.
Kevin is now in training and well on the way to being a valued canine companion for one of Support Dogs’ clients.
Support Dogs is a national charity, which provides assistance dogs for children with autism and adults with epilepsy and physical disability, and is known as the charity that gives dogs a second chance, and specialises in training rescue dogs.
According to his trainer Amy Twamley Kevin is already on track to becoming a successful assistance dog.
“Kevin has a lovely temperament, and if I had to describe him in one word I would say ‘genuine,” says Amy. “He is such a gentle and well-mannered boy. We all love him.”
Kevin’s personality and desire for human company could make him ideal for the charity’s seizure alert programme, but he is also showing potential for the charity’s disability assistance programme because of his lovely, well-rounded character. A match with a possible future client is already on the cards.
Support Dogs received more than 3,500 requests for its services in the past year from individuals and families in need – double the previous year – and has a long waiting list. It recruits prospective assistance dogs from a variety of sources including other Assistance Dogs UK charities, rescue centres, council dog pounds, and unwanted pets.
However, it always needs more dogs to train, hence the importance of its partnership with Dogs Trust.
As well as working closely with Dogs Trust to source more canines, Support Dogs has just created a brand new recruitment and assessor role. New recruit Laura Kay is tasked with scouring the internet to find young dogs with potential from on re-homing sites and rescue centres, and carrying out initial four-week assessments and basic training.
Danny Anderson, fundraising manager at Support Dogs, said: “We work with a variety of dogs, including those from rescue centres or unwanted pets. We don’t have our own breeding programme and love being able to give an amazing dog a second chance and transform them into a lifesaver.
“Seeing the journey of dog that was unwanted to being able to make such a positive impact on someone’s life is very special. Our partnership with Dogs Trust is vital in our quest to turn rescue dogs into hero dogs.”
Celine Di Crocco, Manager at Dogs Trust Loughborough, says: “It is wonderful that Kevin is doing so well. He is a lovely boy and it’s fantastic to think that he is going to have such an incredible role to play in helping someone fulfil their potential and get the most out of life.”