Blue is happy to lead a dog’s life for owner

Ea­ger helper

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Home Help With A Difference - By James Scott

js­cott@thek­m­group.co.uk An amaz­ing dog which can open doors and per­form house­hold tasks like emp­ty­ing the wash­ing ma­chine has given a dis­abled for­mer sol­dier a new lease of life.

Two-year-old labrador Blue takes the post to owner John New­combe, picks up a TV re­mote con­trol and even helps him dress and undress each day.

Mr New­combe, 50, of Mable­down Av­enue, Ash­ford, was given the spe­cial as­sis­tance dog by char­ity Sup­port Dogs af­ter mul­ti­ple-scle­ro­sis (MS) left him wheel­chair bound.

“He is per­fect for help­ing me with ev­ery­day tasks,” said the fa­ther-of-three.

“He’s handy at pass­ing me his feed­ing bowl too.

“When I get up, he will pass me my clothes which a carer helps me put on and when I go to bed he helps me undress. He helps take my shirt and trousers off, pulls my socks off, he does the lot re­ally.”

Sergeant

“When the post­man comes he col­lects the post. He used to get a treat for bring­ing me the post in one bun­dle, but he’s worked out that if he brought it to me in lots of bits he would get more treats.”

Be­fore be­ing di­ag­nosed MS eight years ago, Mr New­combe served as a sergeant in the Devon and Dorset In­fantry Reg­i­ment in North­ern Ire­land and is cur­rently go­ing through a med­i­cal dis­charge from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Reg­i­ment of the Ter­ri­to­rial Army.

As his part­ner Claire Cor­ner, 34, works full-time as a teacher in Sit­ting­bourne, he found he needed more help around the house dur­ing the day.

Mr New­combe ini­tially tried to get his seven-year-old golden labrador Teddy

‘He used to get a treat for bring­ing me the post in one bun­dle, but he’s worked out that if he brought it to me in lots of bits he would get more treats’

trained as a sup­port dog but he had arthri­tis in his el­bow so the char­ity gave him Blue.

As a puppy he was put through six months of train­ing and then Mr New­combe re­ceived train­ing to learn com­mands that Sup­port Dogs will re­spond to.

“I take him every­where I go,” he said. “One of the big dif­fer­ences he has made is in the way other peo­ple re­spond to me. In the past they would of­ten ig­nore me or even get in my way – many peo­ple don’t know how to re­spond to some­body in a wheel­chair. Now they talk about Blue.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about Sup­port Dogs or to make a do­na­tion go to www. sup­port-dogs.org.uk or call 0114 2617800.

To see a video of Blue in ac­tion, visit www.ken­ton­line.co.uk

Pic­tures: Gary Browne FM2679238

Sup­port dog Blue de­liv­ers the mail to owner John New­combe

FM2679232

Mr New­combe’s other dog Teddy

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