Vickie, a former nurse, had her life turned upside down after an operation led to long-term illness. “I have chronic joint and muscle pain, balance problems with sickness, and vertigo challenges, that leave me mentally and physically fatigued on a daily basis. In some ways, aside from my health issues, my biggest challenge was the loss of independence and how that effected my mental health.”

“I went from being this really sociable, outgoing person with a job that cared for others, to feeling isolated, lonely and relying on carers to help me. I had to retire from my job – something I never thought would happen in my thirties, and was living in sheltered accommodation.”

“I hated having to rely on care from other people. I just felt empty, it felt like there was nothing of my old life left. I had too much time to think and everything was focused on being ill. I just wanted my life back, to make my own friends and to be independent again.”

Invisible illness

Vickie’s illnesses would often fluctuate, meaning she was never sure what each day would bring. “Because my illnesses are invisible, I was scared to go out. I felt like I was being judged, if something happened people would assume I was clumsy, or worse, drunk, it felt really hard to get help.”

Vickie would only leave the house if she absolutely needed to, just in case something happened. Unsurprisingly, Vickie slowly became more and more isolated from her community, friends and family.

A friend told Vickie about Dogs for Good and how dogs are trained to help people live more independently. Vickie was convinced an assistance dog could help her and applied straight away.

When she got the call that there was a suitable match she was so thrilled: “I told everyone Dogs for Good had found me a dog that could help me! I was trying to keep calm and think clearly, but I was just so excited!”

“Having my independence is priceless”

When she met Tula she knew that they were made for each other and her confidence has soared. “With Tula by my side I get the assistance I need, and I no longer need carers because Tula can help me with all the physical tasks that I needed them for. That’s been so positive – I have my independence and my confidence back.”

“I still have bad days when I feel ill and my fatigue kicks in, but when I have a good day I go out and see friends. I have a great group of dog walking friends who have been a life-line for me, and I’ve also joined the Dogs for Good Banbury Supporters Group.”

“Tula’s given me structure back in my life and that’s so vital to my mental and physical health. She’s given so much, but more than anything the courage to face each day as it comes.”

Find out more about our assistance dogs.