Category Archives: Blog

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Wheel’s Wonderings contributor is written Ian Pugh a disabled teenager living In Shrewsbury.

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Kelda writes- Some good news….at last! I’m back on track for Rio.

Kelda writes- Some good news….at last! I”m back on track for Rio!

We’re straight back into the thick of training now….and it hurts! But as the old saying goes “No pain, no gain!”

We’re working hard, but it’s all been worth it! This week I’ve had the news I’ve been waiting for…..they’ve decided to take me forward as the GB 2nd  boat and I’m currently on the list to go to the training camp in Brazil in January! This is a huge stepping stone for me and makes all the up’s and downs on the last few months worth every ounce of digging deep that it’s taken to keep going.

I’m now back on track for Rio…it’s not going to be easy, and there’s a great deal of hard work, discipline and sweaty sessions to come over the winter if I’m going to get where I know I can go. But it’s happening – and that is all I needed to know!

I’m paddling well and feeling strong – it’s also given me a huge confidence boost to know that the coaches believe in me. It’s one thing to convince yourself that you believe you can do it, but to have the backing of the coaches means a massive amount to me. I can feel the difference in my approach to training since they told me of their decision. I’ve got everything to play for now, I feel part of the squad and I’m going to be giving it everything…… and then a bit more… come out in the spring ready to challenge the GB first boat.

I’ve now handed in my notice at Battle Back for the next 12 months so I can concentrate on training full time…that may be a little brave (or maybe stupid) as I still haven’t raised the sponsorship I need – but hey, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have no intention of letting it slip me by. I’ll make things work somehow!

Whether you believe you can, or you believe you can’t…you’re probably right.”

I believe I can!!

It’s bizarre for “believing” to be so relevant to my own journey right now – on Friday night I was lucky enough to be invited as the guest speaker at the Wigan Sports Awards. The theme for the evening was “Believe” – so it fitted in perfectly with my story!

It was an amazing night and I met some incredible people, I felt very privileged to get the opportunity to talk to a room full of so much support. It was touching, and very inspiring, to speak to people afterwards and realise how much they could relate to my own journey. I felt slightly embarrassed when people said how inspired they’d been by my story, but actually, what I take away from the evening, is just how powerful sport can be, and if the ripple effect of my own journey can then help others, then that is a truly fantastic thing.

I received this message on face book the following evening….

Your story last night at Wigan helped inspire my 11 old daughter Nicole to a Silver medal, in the British indoor freestyle Snowboarding championship today, even after getting to bed at midnight, thank you”

This just blew me away, and means nearly as much as any Gold medal…but the biggest congratulations go to Nicole – if she chose to take on board some of what I said on Friday night and use it to spur her on in her competition then that is full credit to her, especially at just 11yrs old! A true champion in the making!:-)

A massive congratulations must go out to all the awards winners and nominees who were all making remarkable achievements. It was a pleasure to meet and chat with them all. Congratulations must also go to Wigan SDU for organising such a fantastic night.

So, now it’s back to believing in my own journey, getting my head down and making it happen…..if Nicole can do it, then so can I!





A Dogs Tail-Austerity & the Bedroom Tax! (Part 3) by Selkie

Austerity and Bedroom Tax has sadly affected many companion dogs as well as people.

Austerity and Bedroom Tax has sadly affected many companion dogs as well as people. And the numbers flowing into Rescue Centres continues to grow. Vets fees and Food have put keeping a dog out of reach for many people, and they have had to take the sad decision to place their dogs in Rescue; the Bedroom Tax has also taken it’s toll, people having to move out of their rented homes to smaller homes and fewer and fewer rented properties allow dogs; many dogs are entering Rescue confused and anxious, having to leave their homes; some have great difficulty adjusting to kennel life.

Various Rescue Centres are taking in stray and abused dogs from abroad from countries also hit badly by austerity.

On a trip to the Rescue Centre a few months ago, having phoned ahead and asked if our 3 year old granddaughter could meet a child friendly dog to cuddle (it’s worth mentioning that the Rescue Centres always need volunteer walkers), we had a lovely meeting with a beautiful, gentle giant dog. The lovely lass (Bex) who works at the Centre told me about a WAIST BELT. My muscle power waxes and wanes and walking is a challenge but the waist belt is a super invention  the lovely dog safely and discreetly secured to the waist belt by one lead, with another lead firmly clasped in granddaughter’s and off we toddled with granddaughter holding the lead (whilst the other lead was securely and discreetly attached to my waist belt) leaving another ‘handle’ half way down the belt lead ‘in case of emergency’. The belt has other attachments (poo bags; treats bag; etc., even a mobile phone pouch) and more can be attached if required, (I purloined a couple of carabineers from my husbands shop, also another couple of pouches – the carabineers then clip on and attach to the belt ). I use the waist belt to let our large foster dogs out, while the little dog happily sits on my lap and can even use it to walk the one when I’m in the power chair. Apparently sports folk use them to take their dogs snowboarding or mountain biking etc.,


A very useful, low cost training aid, even available in ‘loud’/quiet dual mode.

A fast, simple way to train a dog. Click the clicker and immediately give the dog a treat. In a relatively short time, just a click and they will come running  very useful for trips to the garden and recall.


My husband takes the dogs for a run most days. One of the dogs goes to work with him, so I entertain the other at home. I hide treats under cushions etc., click the clicker and she happily seeks them out. A treat at a time, several times and she’s ready to snuggle up and rest, tired but happy.

The total acceptance, obedience and companionship of dogs is wonderful and very therapeutic. They sense so much, and can ‘pick up’ if I have a migraine, and will snuggle up quietly. They alert me by the type of bark if a caller is known or a stranger. Their company is reassuring and solace in the lonely times of staring at the wall during bad hours/days. Their joy at running around the garden is ‘contagious’ and their ‘quirks’ fascinating (the one hates the rain and runs in and out as fast as she can; the other loves the rain, dancing and prancing around in it – just before he comes in and ‘decorates’ the walls with water splashes.


It’s maybe worth mentioning that for people with a chronic illness or certain disabilities, and from my own experience of raising puppies when I was healthy, the amount of work, chewing, and clean ups involved with a puppy would be beyond me capabilities these days. The sweetest, most eager to be trained in our experience is an adult rescue dog. If the dog has been in kennels for quite a while, then it can take a little time for the dog to ‘settle’ and gain confidence to ask to ‘go out’ (to the loo) gentle encouragement and lots of old newspapers and if possible a lightweight ‘spills’ vacuum can soon get the dog used to the idea. I’ve found a ‘gentle’ positive approach helps best ‘ignore the negative, praise the positive’ particularly with Rescue Dogs. And they can take a bit longer ‘to settle’ whilst they work out the approach of their new human companions.


At times I can’t get outside but want to make sure I can bring them back if no clicker is to hand, several leads linked together and attached to collars mean I can stay indoors and the dogs can have a jolly good walk around outdoors.

Most Rescue Centres seem to welcome dog cuddlers as well as dog walkers, we have spent some pleasant half hours brushing a dog each from the Centre and the dogs seem to enjoy meeting people.

Again, from a purely selfish perspective, as someone whose working life, social life, and most friends gradually slipped away and I am unable to interact with people most of the time, the foster animals have filled a previously empty void and it somehow helps me to feel ‘useful’, gives me a sense of companionship and they accept me just as I am at any given time. As I sit here typing this, the room is filled with the sound of gentle, contented snoring (from the dogs, not the husband ) – in turn I am soothed and quietly content, what a very special way to end the day!!









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Global goals to end poverty should leave no one behind

Ellie Cox, intern with Shropshire-based hearing loss charity Signal, writes about new global anti-poverty goals and their relevance for people living with disabilities…

Leaders of the United Nations member countries are gathering to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals in a summit at the end of September. These are global goals to bring an end to poverty and reduce inequalities by 2030 – and they make specific reference to disability.

The new goals will build on the Millennium Development Goals which were agreed in 2000 and expire this year. Despite achievements in tackling extreme poverty under the first set of goals, progress has tended to bypass more vulnerable groups in society including people with disabilities.

Around one billion people or 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization. Individuals with disabilities worldwide can face barriers to participation in social and economic life, and this is shown through the estimate that one in three children who are not in school has a disability.

In adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations members specifically pledge to “leave no one behind”. For example, Goal 4 of 17 goals is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”  This goal includes the ambition to “…ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including people with disabilities…” 

Both at home in Shropshire and in sub-Saharan Africa, Signal already works to help to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing people are not left behind. In Shropshire, Signal: The Hub is a place where people can find emotional and practical support to overcome the communication difficulties that hearing loss brings. While the charity’s Outreach and Befriending projects promote social inclusion and confidence building in our communities.

In Africa, Signal and its local partners help marginalised deaf children & young people to gain acceptance and receive an education and training and health information-in an accessible form. This includes working with families, teachers and community leaders to change negative cultural beliefs about deafness. In the UK, too, public awareness raising is part of the work to build deaf friendly communities.

By helping to lift the stigma surrounding deafness, providing deaf children and their families with communication strategies and training teachers in special educational needs, the drop out rate from school of these children in the areas reached by the charity’s projects in Malawi, for example, Has fallen from 90% to below 5%.

More information about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals can be found here: For more information about Signal’s work, please visit:









Man in mud

Kelda writes- Sponsorship to help me do this, and the reaction from people has just blown me away.

Kelda writes-Sponsorship to help me do this, and the reaction from people has just blown me away.

Let the Countdown Begin!

Well, the 3 week break is nearly over….and that means we’re about to start the season that will culminate in the Paralympics next year! That’s an incredibly exciting thought….but a pretty scary one too!

It’s time to focus 100% on Rio. Everything I do, think, eat and sleep will be with Rio in mind.

I’ve been working hard throughout the break trying to secure support and sponsorship to help me do this, and the reaction from people has just blown me away. is supporting me with off the water performance coaching. They’re helping me with my mental approach to the sport and racing, and I’m excited about the impact their coaching will have on my performance. I‘ve only just started working with Phil Kelly and Phil Quirk, master coaches with HBP, but I’m already feeling the benefits of the work we’re doing. I’m incredibly grateful for the support they are giving me. (www.HBP-NLP.COM)

J&PR Ltd are also supporting me with PR and marketing. They run a full service Public Relations agency based in Shropshire and will be supporting me throughout the 12 months leading up to Rio. Raising awareness about my journey will play a vital part in generating further sponsorship (which will be my only way to survive now I’ve taken a year out from work!), so again, I am incredibly grateful for J and PR’s support.

East Midlands Civil Engineering Ltd is a Midlands based contractor with considerable experience in roads, sewers and ground works. They have sponsored me with £1,000 of financial support, a massive help now I have committed to training full time. The money will go directly towards training costs, so again this support will big a big help in enabling me to deliver the best performance possible next year.

For further information about East Midlands Civil Engineering you can visit their website

A big shout out must also go to Geoff Ward film and photography. It’s the film that Geoff kindly put together that has lead onto much of this additional sponsorship, so a big thank you to him.

People say “teamwork makes the dream work”, well blimey, I’m feeling some team behind me at the minute! The support people have given me has been simply incredible and I feel very very lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people.

Talking of amazing people….having a 3 week break gave me the opportunity to go up to the Lake district to help run our very first Climbing Out Level 2 programme. And you couldn’t meet a more amazing bunch of young people than the ones we had right there! The programme was for young people who had already attended one of our 5 day programmes, and to see how much they’d all grown in confidence and developed since they’re first programme was something very special to be part of.

The atmosphere, friendships, support, banter and willingness to be challenged throughout the week was inspiring, and to stand back and watch the guys take ownership, make decisions, run activities and support each other is something I will never forget.

The most fantastic thing is that we’re developing a team that can continue to deliver the Climbing Out programmes long after I’m too old and decrepit to be doing it any more! They in turn, can then develop a team to keep it going when they move onto other things.

In doing this, we are creating something that will have real longevity, and will continue to affect the lives of young people long into the future.

And if we’re looking at challenges….October is going to be a month full of them for me!

I start with performance testing next week – where I intend to smash the backside out of everything that’s asked of me!!:-) The following weekend I’m off to race in a regatta with Warwick Sprint Canoe Club, a great opportunity to challenge myself and see if I can put right what went wrong in September.

On October 7th I have my formal review where I will be fighting hard for my place on the squad, then on the 9th I’m off to the Wigan Sports Awards to be their guest speaker for the evening. This will be a very different challenge to the physical ones of the weeks before, but one I am looking forward to all the same!

On the 15th October I’m being interviewed on Big Centre TV, then on the 23rd I’m attending the Midlands Children of Courage Awards to say a few words about Climbing Out, and hopefully see 2 of our participants pick up awards for which they’ve been nominated. A busy month, but an exciting one too!

Aside from all of that I’m going to be working harder than ever in the gym, on the water and in my mental preparation for the coming season. There’s everything to play for as we start the final 12 months to Rio.

360 days to go and counting………














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Kelda Writes -Is it Enough?

So the season officially ended for us last Saturday with our final regatta of the year. As I’d mentioned in my last blog, this was my ultimate chance to prove to the coaches that I was capable of delivering under pressure, and I could transfer what I’d been producing in training in a race.

Yet again I was reminded that this isn’t a fairly tale, and the nature of sport can be pretty harsh!

I produced an average performance, finishing 4th in my heat in a time of 56 seconds. This qualified me for the B final, where I again did a time of 56 secs. This is a mediocre time, nothing special, nothing horrendous…..but what it didn’t do was prove what I knew I was capable of. I’ve been delivering consistently times of 53/54 secs over the last few weeks, but I allowed myself to get distracted, and this showed in my race.

I’m more annoyed with myself than anything….this was my chance to show them what I can do and I messed up. I let myself down from a mental perspective, I failed to get focused before the race and this put me in a position that I was easily distracted in the race. Over 200m you just can’t afford to do that!

However, I’ve been able to reflect on my performance and I know it was yet another massive step in the learning curve. I will NEVER let that happen again, and I believe there is a lot of work I can do myself, with my coach and with our team psych to help me with this and make sure I don’t loose that focus when it comes to racing next year.

Unfortunately I didn’t do enough to leave the coaches with no questions about my potential for next year.  I now have to wait until the formal reviews in October to find out their decision on my funding and whether I will go to the training camp in Brazil in January. Nothing like drawing out the agony!!!!

I see the Brazil training camp as a vital step in the preparation for Rio so I’m keeping every little bit of me crossed that they believe in me enough to take me along. However, if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world, and it’ll be time to pick myself up, brush myself down and keep fighting…..again!!

It’s less than 9 months now until the selection regatta that decides who will be in the boat that goes to Rio. As soon as we return to training on the 28th September it’s going to be full on, with every athlete on the squad having their focus on that regatta and the Paralympics 3 months later.

It makes my stomach churn when I think of what’s to come over the next few months….it’s exciting, but daunting at the same time.

I watched an incredible film at the weekend called “Unbroken”. It’s a true story about an Olympic athlete called Louis Zamperini that ends up fighting in World War 2. He gets captured by the Japanese Navy and is sent to a Prisoner of War camp. He endures some brutal treatment,  but shows a remarkable strength of character and resilience to survive.

When he was an athlete, his brother said to him “If you can take it, you can make it” and it was these words that kept him going.

I had to have a little word with myself… no matter what happens in October, I will take their decision, and I will take whatever the next 9 months throws at me. If I can do that, train hard and stay focused,  then I will give myself the very best chance of being the one that makes it!








A Dogs Tail-how to welcome mum, when mum was mobile. (part 2) by Selkie

Read how our existing ‘girl’ trained the newbie in how to welcome “mum” when mum was mobile etc

Years went by and our 23 year ‘girl’ passed away, leaving our other ‘girl’ who mourned terribly – which was when we asked for advice from a local Rescue Centre.

It’s always worth checking the Foster Policy first as Rescue Centre’s may differ, in our case, after a home check, we were sent a sweet elderly little dog on Long Term Foster (due to her age and the fact she had been returned to the Centre twice before) as a doggy companion. She made herself at home as soon as she walked in and became a real friend for our existing ‘girl’. Our existing ‘girl’ trained the newbie in how to ask to go out to the loo (a great bonus ), how to sit quietly in the mornings and ignore “mum”, how to welcome “mum” when mum was mobile etc., Sadly, in due course, our remaining ‘old girl’ went to doggy heaven just short of her 14th birthday.

A few weeks later we decided to take an extra bag of food to the Rescue Centre, and as my husband opened the car door to remove the bag, a large elderly Retriever jumped into the car – having just returned from a walk with a volunteer walker. Amidst a lot of chuckling from the Rescue Centre, my husband re-loaded the bag of dog food that we had intended to donate, back into our car and with a wry smile of acceptance from my husband, off we drove!

Our ‘latest’ foster dog has a long-term health condition and is an elderly lovely old boy. The two foster dogs get along beautifully. The Rescue Centre kindly pay all the Vet’s fees; my husband chooses to buy their food, but I believe it’s possible to obtain food for fostered dogs from some Rescue Centres free of charge.

It’s also worth checking which Vet the Rescue Centre has nominated; the Vet nominated by the Rescue Centre we foster for is quite a distance and would be impossible without transportation. Recently one of the dogs was very ill (fine now ) and thankfully the Rescue Centre paid all the Vets bills including an overnight stay in a Veterinary hospital. My husband covered all the travel costs (quite a substantial amount) as we were back and forth for quite a distance several times; I found the travelling exhausting. I learned a lesson – to check which Vet a Rescue uses and the travelling distance.

In our experience, Rescue Centres try to foster out elderly dogs or dogs with a health condition – however, we have had a couple of short term ‘visitors’ one little dog in particular I think is an example of ‘temporary care’ – he had a long standing cough which seemed intractable to treatment – until someone at the Rescue Centre had the idea the cough may be linked with wearing a collar – it was policy at Centre that all dogs should have two collars and leads in the event of an emergency evacuation. The little dog was sent to us, where he could go collarless and when necessary wear a harness. The improvement was dramatic – apparently even the lightest touch to his throat brought on a coughing fit – the harness solved the problem and he is now living happily with his new adoptive parents

Next time:

Austerity and Bedroom Tax has sadly affected many companion dogs as well as people.









Hot Stuff

My funniest moment in my athletics career would have to be March 14th 1999. It was my 21st birthday. I’d flown out with the Welsh athletics team. We had gone warm weather training in the Algarve in order to prepare ourselves for the Paralympics in the future. The day began just like any other. I waited in the foyer of Hotel Atlantis where we were staying. The rest of the team shortly followed. They sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me twice, once in English and then in Welsh. I was deeply touched.

We got on the bus and  were driven to a nearby stadium, where we began our first of two training sessions for that day. I was very glad of lunch and an afternoon nap afterwards.

Later that evening I put on my lilac trouser suit and went down to the restaurant to join my teammates for the evening meal. I wasn’t sure of the menu, so I chose Piri Piri Chicken. I had one mouthful and it blew my head off.  Everyone at the table just burst out laughing. I was sitting next to Anthony (the coach). He poured me a much needed glass of water. When I got over my ordeal I couldn’t stop laughing.

We finished our meals and moved on into a large function room. I was then presented with cards, gifts and the biggest birthday cake I have ever seen. I had no idea that this was happening so I was pleasantly surprised. The gift that sticks in my mind the most is a Little Miss Bossy glass that Anthony gave me. I remember opening it and chuckling as I thought to myself… he knows me so well. He then commented that he’d put on his pulling shirt just for me. My reply was “You should be so lucky” (ha ha).

Anthony bought me a brandy and coke which I drank out of my new glass. Luckily I was given the day off the next day…

Before our evening came to a close, we went through to the bar and joined in with the karaoke. It had been such a wonderful night that I decided to throw caution to the wind and sang ‘New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra. The looks on people’s faces were priceless and it was my turn to laugh, but the crowd were warm and humbling. I went round to say thank you and good night to everyone, then off I went to bed!


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Kelda writes- The squad that travelled out to Milan did an awesome job

The squad that travelled to Milan, World Championships did an awesome job. 4 Spots Qualified for Rio including Emma Wiggins pictured.

After not being selected for the Worlds, it’s not been the easiest of times, but I’ve had to get my head down, stay focused and try and stay positive.

The good news is, the week before the squad left for Milan, I managed to hit that target time of sub 54 seconds….and I did it twice! This was a great boost for me, and will hopefully show the coaches that I’m absolutely still in the game for Rio.

The squad that travelled out to Milan for the World Championships did an awesome job and returned home with 2 Golds, 5 silvers and most importantly 4 spots qualified for the Paralympics next year.

There were some amazing efforts from team mates and their performances pays credit to how hard they’ve all been training throughout the season. I was sat in the GB canoeing office, watching the results as they came in, and I was proud to be part of such a strong team.

However, other nations are getting stronger too, and GB didn’t dominate the championships as they have done in the past. I think this is a real lesson to us all for next year….we can’t afford to be complacent, and the other nations seem to have really upped their game. We’re all going to have to be set for some seriously hard work this winter if we’re to keep sight of those Gold medals.

It’s been a tough few weeks for me and things haven’t worked out as I’d hoped, but, I firmly believe I’ve come out of it a stronger, more determined athlete. I’ve proved both on the water and in the gym that I’m making significant gains, and there’s still much more to come!

All that’s left for this season is to now deliver a solid performance in the last regatta of the season next weekend. After that, I’ll have done everything I can possibly do, and it will all come down to the decisions of the coaches and the performance team in October when they meet to allocate funding and places for the Rio training camp in January.

I’ve given it everything, hopefully that’ll be enough for them to still consider me an important part of the squad.

I haven’t had too much time for anything else other than training over the last few weeks, but Climbing Out has run 4 amazing programmes and helped over 60 young people. We’ve one more programme to go in 2015, and the impact on the lives of young people has been simply incredible. Below are the words written by one young lady after attending a Climbing Out programme.

Less than a year ago, I couldn’t walk because a soft tissue and bone cancer called Parasteal Osteosarcoma had taken away my ability to live without aid. Yet a couple of days ago I climbed a mountain in the Lake District. Yes, it hurt, but I wasn’t prepared to let that stop me. Granted, on the way back down I had assistance the full way because my balance is still atrocious, but I DID IT!

Thank you Climbing Out, without your charity I wouldn’t have realised my capabilities and I certainly wouldn’t be beginning to be proud of myself.

You have undeniably and categorically changed my views on life and my attitude towards the world and helped me battle my disorders. Most of all though – the people I met and had the honour of being surrounded by, inspired me when my depression attacked me, motivated me when my mind told me I couldn’t, comforted me when my depression abused me, relied on me when they needed help, respected me, cared for me, and saved my life” Shannon

I’m also incredibly proud to say that 2 young people from Climbing Out have been short listed for the Midlands Children of Courage Awards.

Chelsey Dixon and Molly Evans are both remarkable young ladies, who were diagnosed with cancer at 17yrs and 15yrs respectively. They have showed amazing courage to overcome the challenges they have faced and are both are so deserving of this recognition.

The awards night is on October 23rd, and I’ll be there to support them both and hopefully see them pick up the coveted trophy.

Well, it’s just one week to go until we have a 3 week break from training….and I have to admit, I’m more than ready for that break! However, I won’t be sitting on my bum for too long…..we have performance testing the first 2 days back on the 28thand 29thSept, and I still have a point to prove! So, it might be a break from full training, but I intend to keep working hard and to go back refreshed and ready to show them what I’m made of. It’s gonna be all eyes on Rio!!


A Dogs Tail by Selkie (Part 1)

We welcome Selkie who has written this blog about her life & how dogs have become her companions & helpers. This is part one of a three part blog. Thank you Selkie for sharing with us.

Although we have had the pleasure of doggy companions for many years, we had we two of our own dogs when the disease struck my daughter and I and turned into chronic illness.

Pre illness I was able to take the dogs for long walks etc., as the illness progressed, so did my difficulties. From the dogs’ point of view, lack of exercise would have been a problem, (my husband was working abroad a lot) but I was lucky enough to have a young friend who also owned a dog and would take all three out for runs. The ‘girls’ (our own dogs) were elderly by then and though they no longer needed long walks, they still needed exercising. The time came when the friend moved away, I then tracked down a dog walking service, which was expensive and the dogs were not at all happy. I would have been in great difficulty at this point; had not a lovely young neighbour taken on the role, and for several years took them to run in the fields for me.

Getting dogs to a Vet I found to be much harder than cats  as my dogs didn’t like vets and didn’t like travelling – so finding someone to take them was very difficult.

From a purely selfish point of view, I adored my ‘old girls’, and their company, their acceptance of me pre-illness and during – also their intelligence saved me from many a mishap!! (For example the one evening – I ‘thought’ I was alert enough to make some toast…wrong…I got distracted…the next thing I was aware of, the ‘girls’, running back and forth, whining and shepherding me into the kitchen, full of smoke and a flame licking out from the grill!!

They also made an instant judgement of my ‘condition’ at any particular time, if I’m having zombie phase, they looked at me and stayed in their beds (and went back to sleep), if the next time I pass them I’m looking alert – then I received a welcome and they jumped up for pats and cuddles (I allow them to jump up, firstly because I enjoy the welcome and secondly – it’s an energy saving/balance saving ploy – because I didn’t have to bend down to pat them. Also during ‘zombie’ phases I could use hand signals with the girls which was extremely useful.

They thoroughly enjoyed snuggling up during ‘splat’ phases, reminded me to give them their breakfast if they haven’t been fed, reminded me it’s treat time at 3 pm, reminded me to eat in the evening, if I had forgotten they whined and stood by the table. Great company and faithful friends, however I am very aware that there were times when I am physically unable to let them out into the garden (for ‘you know what’) – were it not for my husband. We have a wipe clean list on the kitchen wall, and tick off when one of us has fed the dogs, let them out etc.,

Next time: Read how our ‘girl’ trained the newbie in how to welcome “mum” when mum was mobile etc