I BANK WITH BARK-LAYS
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