They say that a dog is man’s best friend and border terrier Sparky certainly lives up to that description.
Sparky does all sorts to help his owner Elaine Wall, including fetching the phone, loading the washing machine and opening door.
Elaine, 44, from Leyland, has severe arthritis, fibromyalgia and brittle bones, conditions that have been getting increasingly worse over the past ten years or so.
She needs a mobility scooter to travel any distance and shorter distances require walking sticks.
Sparky, who is five years old, has made a difference to the way Elaine can approach everyday tasks and chore.
Elaine has had the dog since he was a pup.
She said: “I can now pop to the shops on my mobility scooter knowing that if I drop my purse or anything Sparky will pick it up – it’s not easy to ask a stranger to pick up your personal possessions.
“It’s a funny thing to say but I feel I’m no longer invisible thanks to my little helper.
“My friends get to see a lot more of me and I am now confident about going out on my own.
“In the past I often felt ignored or overlooked but he breaks the ice and I now get people talking to me about him, recognising my situation and also offering to help in small ways like reaching things from high supermarket shelves.”
Elaine said: “I’m so much more confident now about going out thanks to Sparky,” she said.
“For the first time this summer I was able to go away camping with my nine-year-old daughter Emma and all our friends.
“It allowed us to spend some real quality time together; I don’t care how bad the weather was – for us it was great!”
Previously, my husband would have had to take time off work and join us, or my friends would take Emma with them. Now I can join in the fun with all the other mums.”
On Saturday Elaine and Sparky will have their achievements recognised at a Graduation Day ceremony.
The duo are among eight partnerships from all over the country this year to successfully complete training by the Support Dogs charity, based in Sheffield.
Also ‘graduating’ will be Alice Boardman and Lucie, from Chorley.
Lucie is an autism assistance dog who works with Alice to help son Alex, six, cope with severe autism. Her elder son, seven-year-old Thomas, has Asperger’s Syndrome and Dyspraxia.
The owners will receive a certificate the dogs a rosette - Lucie for completing autism assistance training and Sparky for disability assistance training.