Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

ADOG res­cued af­ter it was given up by its own­ers has gone on to be­come a life­saver for the man who took it in. Coz, an 11-year-old Col­lie and Al­sa­tian cross, has be­come an as­sis­tance dog for Ban­gor man John Rid­dle, per­form­ing all sorts of tasks, in­clud­ing tak­ing his wash­ing out of the ma­chine and even cash out of the hole in the wall if he strug­gles.

Mr Rid­dle, 51, de­cided to adopt Coz when he found him at the Fresh­fields an­i­mal cen­tre in Nebo. As he suf­fers from fi­bromyal­gia – a de­bil­i­tat­ing con­di­tion that causes chronic pain – he finds ev­ery­day tasks dif­fi­cult.

But the pooch – who was left be­hind when his own­ers em­i­grated – makes light work of them. Mr Rid­dle said: “Since I’ve had fi­bromyal­gia it’s been dif­fi­cult for me to do the things most peo­ple can. The con­di­tion makes my body stiff, my hands seize up and my legs get very tired.

“I’ve got a mo­bil­ity scooter but I can’t go far. I’ve trained Coz my­self and the range of things he can do is as­ton­ish­ing.

“One of his favourite things to do is to get the money out of the cash ma­chine for me – very gen­tly of course! He comes shop­ping with me and he gets the shop­ping into the bas­ket for me and un­packs it when we get home.”

Coz also helps John around the house by tak­ing the wash­ing out of the wash­ing ma­chine, pulling his bed­ding back in the morn­ing and he fetches any­thing John needs. Mr Rid­dle was a pri­vate in the Army for three years in North­ern Ire­land be­fore be­ing med­i­cally dis­charged in 1987. He de­scribes his time in the Army as “trou­bled” and ad­mits that he be­came so low af­ter leav­ing that he jumped off a mo­tor­way bridge while liv­ing in Manch­ester. He said: “I don’t re­mem­ber much about the in­ci­dent, all I know was that I woke up in in­ten­sive sive care three weeks later af­ter be­ing ng put in to an in­duced coma.

“I had ex­ten­sive in­juries es and my re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion nurse se sug­gested I start do­ing light t ex­er­cise to help heal.”

He be­gan vol­un­teer­ing at an­i­mal shel­ters in Manch­ester and de­cided to adopt four-year-old Billy, a col­lie crossed with a Ger- man shep­herd, as a way to o in­crease his ex­er­cise.

“Billy re­ally kicked the whole thing off,” he said, d, “I trained him to do a few things ngs and we just went from there. When he passed away I knew I needed an­other dog. I’ve al­ways loved the unique con­nec­tion we have with dogs.” Mr Rid­dle said when he went to the Fresh­fields cen­tre in 2012, he knew Coz – then just four years old – was “the one”. He added: “I wanted to see if we had a bond first be­fore I started train­ing him as my as­sis­tance dog. Once I saw how spe­cial he was I thought the sky’s the limit for me and Coz. He’s got a great per­son­al­ity, he’s re­ally daft and happ happy and he’s so in­tel­li­gent. I saw som some­thing spe­cial in him straight away.” He says Coz has given him the con­fi­dence to do the thin things he strug­gled to do and is now urg­ing other peo­ple to con­sider adopt­ing a rescu cue dog rather than buy­ing a new puppy. “The great­est gift you can gi give a res­cue an­i­mal is a se sec­ond chance at life – I’ve giv given that to Coz, and he gav gave it back to me in re­turn.” Fo For more in­for­ma­tion about Freshf Fresh­fields An­i­mal Res­cue visit ww www.fresh­fields.org.uk or call 01286 4 479711.

Coz with John Rid­dle, and (main) fetch­ing money from a cash ma­chine

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