By James Somper
A wheelchair-bound woman claims her super pooch – the first dog in the UK taught to do washing – became her partner after her husband left her.
Spinal disc regeneration sufferer Wendy Martin, 54, has been disabled for 20 years and was originally looked after by her ex-husband before the pair split in 2013.
But the mum-of-four, from Erdington, West Mids, claims since then rescue pooch Kevin, a three-year-old golden Labrador, has become as close to her as her husband ever was.
The clever hound has been trained to take her socks off, put her coat on and even do her laundry – the first assistance dog in the country to learn this skill.
Wendy said: “Kevin and I are like our own little family.
“Kevin is like my shadow, if he’s asleep and I move he wakes up instantly. He’s switched on 24/7.
“He’s with me all the time and follows me everywhere.
“Now that I’m on my own, having him around is fantastic.
“He makes a huge difference to my day-to-day life.
“Having Kevin is almost like having a man in the house looking after me. He even answers back!
“He’s my companion. It’s nice to have him by my side to know he’ll be there.”
Wendy first began to develop spinal disc degeneration in her teens, eventually having to use a wheelchair from the late 1990s.
She was given Kevin, who was trained by disabled pooch charity Support Dogs, in April last year after her previous support dog Oscar retired.
The dependable pooch has been specially trained to lift Wendy’s clothes in and out of the washing machine, open doors for her, activate her panic alarm, take her socks off and even help her put her coat on.
Wendy said from the instant she first saw her furry friend, who was left at Dogs Trust Loughborough after his previous owner could no longer look after him, it was love at first sight.
The 54-year-old added: “The first day I met Kevin, he came running in, jumped on the sofa and put his head in my lap.
“It was love at first sight. He had such a caring, lovely look at me.
“Lots of people go to stroke him when they meet him, which he likes.
“Even when they do, he’ll carry on looking at me to make sure I’m fine.
“If he had his way he’d be on my lap.
“He curls up on my legs when I’m on the sofa and then gets on the bed with me when I go to sleep.
“He’s almost as good as having a hot water bottle.
“He’s one of a kind, he’s so happy to do anything for you and to help you at any time.”
Danny Anderson, fundraising manager at Support Dogs, said: “We work with a variety of dogs, including those from rescue centres or unwanted pets. We love being able to give an amazing dog a second chance and transform them into a lifesaver.
“Seeing the journey of a rescue dog like Kevin being able to make such a positive impact on someone’s life is very special.”
Celine Di Crocco, Dogs Trust Loughborough rehoming centre manager, says: “It is wonderful Kevin has qualified and is such an important part of Wendy’s life.
“His love of human company was one of the reasons we thought he had great potential as a Support Dog and I’m sure he absolutely loves being by Wendy’s side every day, and night.”