New best friend for disability activist John
Local disability activist John Morgan has a new best friend. The Dundalk resident welcomed Jamie, a golden retriever provided by Dogs for the Disabled, into his Suil na Mara home last Monday.
'He's two years of age,' says John, revealing that Jamie was born in Mountjoy Women's prison, as part of a project with Dogs for the Disabled. The puppy spent his first six weeks there before going to live with a foster family for eighteen months.
Jamie then received his training back in Cork with Dogs for the Disabled, learning to the skills needed to be an assistance dog.
A delighted John met Jamie on Monday, when the dog arrived in Dundalk, accompanied by his trainer who helped John get to know the commands to give to the dog.
'The first day was spent around the house, with Jamie learning to pick up my mobile phone or the remote control,' says John. 'The following day we took him up town and we also got the local bus and then travelled by train to Drogheda.'
'He's great and has settled in really well,' says John, who even brought Jamie to Mass in the Redemporists. 'I sit in the section for wheelchair users and he just lay at my feet the whole time.'
As well as accompanying John on his travels around town, Jamie is trained to pick up things and give them to him and to raise the alarm should John become ill or have an accident.
'He's great company,' says John, clearly delighted with his new best friend.
While the assistant dogs are provided to their owners free of charge, it costs €15,000 to train a dog. John has been busy raising funds so that more dogs can be trained for other people and has raised over €5,500 so far.