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(Updated 3/7/01)

Jade - a precious gem of a dog

JADE THE Border Collie/Goldie cross is a dog in a million to her owner, for Jade has been Sarah Carr’s assistance dog for the past three years and has inspired Sarah to write a book about the work of Dogs for the Disabled.

Sarah explained how they met: “Jade walked into my life and put a smile back on my face. Our first meeting was February 26th 1998 at the Assembly Rooms, Derby, where Dogs for the Disabled staff, volunteers and clients were out in force to support snooker star Steve Davis in his quest to win his first round match against Nigel Bond in the Liverpool Victoria Charity Challenge, where snooker players are chosen to play for nominated charities over seven frames.

“As I took my seat in the front row, looking across to my right, I saw a black and white dog frantically making its way towards me. Once she reached me she sat down and rested her head on my lap. From that moment on I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I remember thinking ‘you will do for me!’”

Sarah learned that Jade had originally been intended as a Guide Dog but had found the work unexciting. Since becoming a Dog for the Disabled, however, Jade has transformed Sarah’s life:

As Sarah remembers: “One afternoon while she was enjoying a free run, I became stuck in mud on my scooter and started to sink. I blew my whistle twice and Jade returned to my side. I asked her to sit and to speak. To my relief she did bark, and kept barking until help arrived and I was rescued. This may not seem significant but Jade was only taught to bark a week before I had her. The incident happened after only three weeks together; she instinctively knew something was wrong. I was very proud of her and I realised then that a strong bond had already developed between us.”

Sarah has fibromyalgia and also arthritis, which makes it difficult to bend and pick things up, and so Jade’s help with the washing machine, telephone and the post, as well as gloves and shoes, etc, is invaluable. The five year old dog also accompanies Sarah on hospital visits and to college, as well as fund raising to help raise awareness of the charity.

It was in September 2000 that the incident occurred which indirectly led to Sarah to think about a book. Jade was running free and started to chase a squirrel: “The next thing I heard was Jade yelping; but I couldn’t see her. Eventually she came out of the bushes and ran over to me. She rolled over onto her back and revealed a deep gash in her undercarriage”.

With immediate veterinary attention, Jade survived the injury - it later proved to have been caused by a dumped television set - but the close shave, and the temporary decline in Sarah’s health as a result of Jade’s convalescence, made Sarah realise anew how much of a partnership she and Jade had become. The idea of a book was born, and the result should be well worth the read.

Anyone interested in finding out more about Dogs for the Disabled should write to the following address: Frances Hay House, Blacklocks Hill, Banbury, Oxon OX17 2BS tel 01295 252660 fax 01295 252668 email dfd@dial.pipex.com