Golden retriever Orbit becomes a Girl’s Best Friend with Crerar Trust 's £20,000 donation to Canine Partners

Crerar Trust has donated £20,000 towards Canine Partners’ mission for training assistance dogs to help give greater independence and quality of life to people like Edinburgh resident Finola Forman who live with varying and complex disabilities.

Reliant on a wheelchair, with limited use of her arms and hands, daily life can hold many challenges for 22-year-old Finola who has cerebral palsy. But since being partnered with specially trained golden retriever Orbit, Finola can gain greater confidence in learning to adapt to everyday obstacles.

Dale Gormley, Regional Fundraiser for Scotland at Canine Partners, said assistance dogs like Orbit were carefully matched to help the needs and lifestyles of their disabled partners, no matter how challenging.

“Finola will hugely benefit from the help of Orbit. She will not only be afforded greater independence in a physical sense by way of practical assistance, but will also experience psychological and social benefits too,” Mr Gormley said.

“Many of the people who come to us for a canine partner are leading very isolated lives, unsure of their own capabilities and nervous about going out in public. Our partners tell us that having the reassuring presence of a canine partner at their side often changes the way the general public perceives them as an individual.

“Conversations with strangers become easier, friendships develop with neighbours and shop assistants take the time to engage with them,” Mr Gormley added.

Canine Partners trains assistance dogs to support people with varying complex disabilities such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal injuries and many more. The dogs help with tasks such as opening doors, unloading the washing machine, picking up dropped items, pressing buttons and switches and fetching help in an emergency.

To support a canine partner from puppy selection to the end of its working life costs a total of £20,000. Ten thousand pounds is needed to purchase and train the dog from puppy to partnership and £10,000 to train an applicant to work with and care for an assistance dog through to the end of that partnership. With no government funding, Canine Partners relies solely on generous donations from supporters like that of the Crerar Trust to give a “life-transforming gift” to those in need of the support a canine partner can bring.