Border Terrier Abbi was never meant to be an assistance dog and has no formal training. Two-year-old Abbi belongs to Lucy Eccles, a six-year-old girl with Coffin-Siris Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes developmental delays and health problems. Lucy has difficulties with speech and language and demonstrates autistic behaviours.
Lucy has spent most of her life in and out of hospital having very invasive investigations and therapy. She attends the Central Remedial Clinic in Clontarf, Dublin and has at least two appointments per week and at the moment she is waiting on surgery in Temple Street Hospital.
Lucy’s mother Noeleen had initially intended on using Abbi as a show dog but unfortunately she did not make the grade. Noeleen however did notice that Abbi had some ability around Lucy and Abbi has now become a very important member or the Eccles family.
Abbi has brought some normality to Lucy’s life and by communicating with Abbi, Lucy is kept calm and relaxed. Lucy wears orthotics to help her walk. “The more mobile we keep Lucy, the better. Before Abbi came along, she would walk around and not notice her environment. Abbi helps her to avoid obstacles, encourages her to walk a little further, and Lucy is less prone to meltdowns. Life is much easier.”
As Abbi has no formal training they are not allowed to bring her into cafes or shops which is a pity. Noeleen is considering doing therapy dog work with Abby so that she can help other children.
Abbi also helps Lucy to communicate with other children. “Lucy doesn’t have any friends, and can find it hard when she wants to run after children in the playground. But Abbi is Lucy’s friend, and when people come over to look at her, Lucy feels more involved. Abbi has changed Lucy’s life.”
Abbi is nominated in the Irish Kennel Club Golden Paw Hero Dog Awards, which aim to find Ireland’s most courageous and life-changing dogs. The awards take place on Wednesday, 21 May. Check out http://www.ikc.ie/goldenpaw.
Last week coastguard volunteers rescued a dog who had fallen 150 feet onto rocks at the bottom of a steep coastal ravine.
Bella the Staffordshire Bull Terrier who was adopted from a rescue shelter fell onto the rocks at Rabbits Cove in Glandore, West Cork. Her howls were heard by owners and they searched the cliffs tops for her.
Incredibly Bella only suffered a broken leg when she fell but the seas were high and darkness was falling.
Coastguard volunteers from the Toe Head-Glandore Unit swung into action following a frantic call for help issued by Bella’s owner, local photographer Emma Jervis.
“The situation was desperate. We got help from a local boat at Union Hall to try and access the cove at sea level but the swell was too high. We couldn’t even see her,” she said.
Emma and her partner Clo Reddin’s hopes for their pets survival were hanging by a thread. Coastguard cliff and water rescue teams were tasked at 7.15pm as concerns mounted over dwindling daylight hours. “The reason we go in a situation like this is that if we don’t go, the owner or another civilian might put their life at risk,” deputy officer in charge of Toe Head–Glandore Coastguard John O’Mahony said.
The coastguard boat was launched from Union Hall and lead by coxswain Carla Nugent-Mules the crew managed to navigate the rocky inlet and scale the slippery rocks to reach the distraught dog.
Coaxing her with treats they gathered the whimpering Bella and got her back to the boat. Minutes later she was reunited with her owners. “She wagged her tail and she was so happy to see us, it was such a huge relief, they were minding her so well,” said Emma.
The bewildered Bella was wrapped in blankets and whisked off to a waiting vet. The sensational pet Staffie suffered cuts, bruises and a broken femur but defied all expectations by surviving.
“Thanks to everyone who made a call, tweeted and shared the call for help and thanks especially to the Coastguard for rescuing her, they were amazing,” Emma said.
Specialist dogs in Cork have found a missing psychiatric patient after a long over night search. Irish Search Dogs (ISD) have said that this case highlights the importance that specialist dogs such as the ones used during this search can have to the Irish emergency services.
The alarm was raised at 2am yesterday when the staff at the Stephen’s Hospital in Glanmire noticed that a female patient who had been admitted earlier that day was now missing. The hospital staff phoned their colleague, Suzanne Flynn, who is also a member of ISD, at around 4am.
Suzanne Flynn and her colleague Mick McCarthy responded immediately Suzanne with her collie, Kram, and Mr McCarthy with his bloodhound, Max.
The ISD team arrived at around 5am and conducted an initial search of the campus as gardaí travelled to the patient’s home to retrieve a scent item.
The gardaí returned to St Stephen’s with a shoe owned by the patient. The searchers then went to the place where the patient was last seen, the woman’s shoe was presented to Max, who immediately picked up a scent and set off on her trail. He led his handler directly to the patient within 15 minutes.
The patient was found in a distressed and confused state about 1/2 a kilometre from where she was last seen.
She fled the scene and managed to leave the hospital grounds but was eventually found in Glanmire and was persuaded to return to the hospital for treatment.
“She was physically fine but she had been out in the elements for almost four hours,” Ms Flynn said.
“But this great ending shows the power of the dogs, and the importance of getting the early callout.”