I know Wendy, Karen and their dogs Udo and Coco personally. Amazing women who work hard for the charities that have helped them. I have always been impressed with the level of training these dogs receive, the difference it makes to an independent lifestyle. I am proud to count them as friends.
Read their interview with Julie Hill of Dogcast Radio
Passing the Torch in so many ways
Two friends will be taking part in the Olympic torch relay this summer, both accompanied by their assistance dogs. Wendy Morrell and Karen Ruddlesden are delighted to be passing on the Olympic flame, and their dogs Udo and Coco will be right by their sides.
The big day for Karen and Wendy is 13th July, in Poole, Dorset, and the symbolic passing on of the flame has many resonances for both women. It is mirrored in the way the lives of the friends’ dogs have intertwined. Wendy’s previous dog, Caesar, trained by Dogs for the Disabled, assisted her with mobility problems, and warned her of impending epileptic seizures. However, it was a hugely significant development when Caesar started to alert when Karen’s Addison’s Disease was about to send her into crisis. Unlike other conditions like diabetes, there is no easy at home way for Karen to check her cortisol, so the possibility of a dog who could detect a problem before it became a crisis held immense hope. Medical Detection Dogs trained an assistance dog, Coco, to accompany Karen at all times.
Karen fondly remembers, “The first time we went to London on the underground, Coco watched Caesar, how he coped with it and he noticed that Caesar just lay there and Coco watched, and learned so much from him.”
When Caesar developed health problems, Coco donated a litre of blood, but sadly Caesar passed away. In time, Wendy’s current dog Udo arrived, and it was Coco’s turn to play mentor and help the new boy settle in. Thus their beloved dogs have shared and passed to each other the torch of caring for Wendy and Karen.
Taking part in the torch relay has vast significance for both women. For Wendy, the key word is affirmation, “The couple of years before I got Udo were really quite bad news – losing my Dad, and losing Caesar, and last year having all this surgery on my arm, so in many respects being offered a place in the torch relay is affirming that life does go on; there’s still exciting things to happen even though you think the worst has happened.”
Karen is nervous but thrilled to be taking part in the relay, “It’s an absolute honour and a privilege to be able to do this but I’m also excited for the charity as well.”
Wendy nominated Karen in recognition of her work for the charity who supplied the dog that has changed her life. In turn, Karen nominated Wendy for her extensive work as an advocate for assistance dog access, advising the Disabled Persons’ Transport Advisory Committee at the Department for Transport and the Metropolitan Police.
Both women have advised LOCOG on accommodating assistance dogs visiting the games, and a highlight for them will be attending the 10 meter diving final.
For further information or to interview Wendy or Karen please contact Julie Hill on 02081230279 or Julie@DogCastRadio.com
Dogs for the Disabled (http://www.dogsforthedisabled.org/ ) is a life-transforming charity, creating exceptional partnerships between people living with disability and specially trained assistance dogs.
Through practical assistance a dog can offer freedom and independence to children and adults with physical disabilities and children with autism.
Medical Detection Dogs (www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk) is a charity that trains dogs to help people with life threatening health conditions, giving them greater independence and above all saving their lives on a daily basis.
See Wendy and Udo demonstrating the useful and entertaining,” if I sneeze, fetch a tissue” trick for me at Crufts 2012