Boris is a RECOVERY Assistance Dog, and he helps his Mum with things she struggles with every day due to Arthritis, OCD, Panic Attacks and Social Phobia, helping her to take the control back in her life and regain her independence again.
His Mum was very brave and came out in the pouring rain to do this photoshoot. I think it very much shows his Spaniel side - it must have been confusing for Boris though as he is always very clean & dry when he is working and wearing his assistance jacket!
Name, age & breed
Good golly gosh gee whizz, when mum told me I had to do an interview I was worried I can tell you. I've never had to answer questions about myself before, I normally just sit there getting loads of cuddles and taking all the compliments hoomans love to shower me with, I'm so pleased you've started me off with a nice easy question I can answer **wipes brow with paw and breaths out a huge sigh of relief**
I have two names which some pups may find confusing but let me explain: I have a Kennel Club name which my breeder gave me "Dougal of Danehurst" I know it's a bit posh isn't it, makes me sound like I'm some sort of royalty in the dog world **giggles** and I have my real name that everybody knows me by which is "Boris" I've no idea why mum called me that, but I like it and could remember it when I first moved in with mum and everything was so new and confusing to me. I'm 22 months old now and I'm a Working Cocker Spaniel.
Any advice for any pets who want to become an Assistance Dog?
To be considered as an Assistance dog you must have a really, really good temperament, just being friendly isn't enough, you have to be confident and outgoing, not overly excitable, have good impulse control and a willingness to learn lots and lots of new things, depending on what type of help your hooman needs will dictate what it is you're trained to do.
What’s your favourite colour?
It was Royal Blue but now I love Orange as my jacket is orange and the colour looks really good on me.
Favourite thing about your job?
Seeing mum smile and knowing that I've made it happen because I'm helping her to regain her independence again.
Until I came along she suffered with terrible panic attacks and hardly ever went anywhere alone. The panic attacks still happen sometimes when we're out, part of my job is to put my paw on her leg which gets her to focus on me and she knows she then needs slow her breathing to calm the rising panic attack, as time goes on I'm learning to recognise the signs of a panic attack rising earlier and earlier.
I'm also learning to pick things up that she drops and hand them to her as bending down is really painful, as far as I'm concerned these tasks are all one big brilliant game as I was trained to do them using Positive Reinforcement, which means I get a treat or a toy to play with every time I do them correctly. I'm still at the beginning of my training, so there's lots more tasks to learn which means many more games for me to play to learn them.
Funniest story from the your day job.
Early on in my training we were doing some off lead Impulse Control training by the canal, I have a great passion for swimming but it's not always convenient for me to swim every time we walk along the canal so I needed to learn I can't always jump in, we'd got to the point I was happily walking along off lead and ignoring the canal so mum decided to video how well I was doing.
Mum videos me swimming quite often, so when I heard the camera turn on I thought the lesson was over and did a spectacular leap, harness and all, as I'm mid air I heard mum yell "NO" but it was too late gravity took me into the canal. I knew instantly I'd made a massive error and swam back to the bank, but I was unable to climb out as it was too steep, so mum had to hobble along the bank encouraging me to swim along by waving my ball in the air until we could find where the bank was low enough to climb out, unfortunately it was still too high but mum was finally able to reach the handle on my harness and unceremoniously haul me out of the canal.
It was one of the best swimming sessions ever, although mum tells the story completely differently **grins**
Who’s your idol?
Dr Tim Sparrow at Fitzpatrick Referrals, he operated on me when I was 7 months old as it was discovered that I had multiple small fractures in my elbows caused by Fragmented Coronoid Process. Because of Dr Tim I am now pain free and able to be an Assistance Dog.
Favourite TV program?
That's a really hard one as I love watching the TV laying on the sofa between my hoomans, but I quite often nod off and rarely see a full programme, I do really like Paul O'Grady's "For The Love of Dogs" and will sometimes join in with the dogs barking on the TV
What’s your superpower?
To make all who meet me fall in love with me.
Claire Goyer: Hi Boris - Auntie Claire here First off, well done for all you have achieved so far. We are all so very proud of you!
**blushes** Thank you so much Auntie Claire.
I'd like to know what you think is the best thing about being an Assistant Dog? Aside from the groovy jumper of course xx
Being an Assistance Dog is amazing and I love helping my mum, before I came along mum hardly ever went out on her own due to severe panic attacks and she always had to have somebody with her. Now she has me and when I sense that the panic is rising in her I put my paw on her leg, she knows that when I do that she has to look at me and slow her breathing down, ever since I was taught to distract mum she's not had a full blown panic attack. But the really best thing that's happened so far is, after going into our local supermarket for some training with both mum and dad several times to get me used to walking on the slippery floors, the noise of the trollies and learning that I must never ever sniff at things in there, I can now take mum shopping all on my own, it's just me and her, she still gets a bit panicky about going out and we've only done it a few times, but she's done it which is truly amazing. Mum says it feels like she's climbed onto the first rung of the ladder to getting her independence and life back again. I'm also learning to pick things up and give them to mum if she drops them or if she needs me to go and fetch something like her medication bag. I still have a lot more tasks to learn to do to help mum be more independent before I can graduate.
From: Amy Tish: Hi Boris as a regular follower I'd love to know how your mom gets your coat so so black and shiny as you love rolling and playing in mud so much, you look like two different dogs!
Yes Miss Amy I certainly do love mud and puddles **grins** and get very, very dirty sometimes. Luckily we live in a sandy area so most of the mud just brushes out really easily. I get a thorough grooming every day, first mum combs me to get any knots out of my feathering then she brushes me all over with a horses Body Brush, which is really amazing at lifting any dust and grease out of my coat, then I get a rub down with a micro fibre cloth which really brings out the shine. On the rare occasion I may need more than a brush, mum puts me in the bath and hoses me down with plain water using the shower head, she then towel dries me and brushes me through when I'm dry.
From Chris and Cathy Benson: What's the difference between an Assistance Dog and a Service Dog?
That's a very good question Chris and Cathy, an Assistance Dog is trained to do specific tasks to help somebody with a disability, whereas a Service Dog is a Police Dog or Military dog. The confusion arises because in The States Assistance Dogs are referred to as Service Dogs.
From Jenny Pickles & Maisy the Spaniel : Hey Boris - how many socks can you pick up in one go!? Love Maisy
Sadly I've never tried this, as I can only use my mouth on my peoples clothing when asked to do a specific task like empty the washing machine, but I can fit two tennis balls in my mouth at once so I guess that would be a lot of socks **grins**
From Sally Swait : Hi Boris what do you like to do when you're not working? x
When I'm at home with mum and dad I like to either snooze on the sofa with them or keep getting dad to throw my soft toy into the hall so I can fetch it and get him to do it again, I trained him to do that all on my own and mum thinks its really funny, I have lots of soft toys I just love to carry around the house. When I'm out on walks I love to hunt out big muddy puddles and lay in them, run through them and sometimes roll in them too, being dirty and wet is my favouritest thing in the world.
Boris is looking for people to sponsor him on his journey to graduation as an Assistance Dog with RECOVERY. As his sponsor you'll receive regular and personal letters from him every 3-4 months, a recent photo, the Heads Up magazine and a lovely certificate, all whilst supporting a fantastic charity for as little as £4.34 a month, that's only £1 a week. To sponsor Boris is as simple as following the link from here and downloading the form. http://www.recovery4wellbeing.org.uk/#!sponsor-a-recovery-assistance-dog/c84x
You can also follow his adventures on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whatborisdidnext/