Leigh, with a 'side of Ice'
Our newest canine partnership has hit the Christchurch streets, and six weeks on Leigh Montford tells us about her ‘side of Ice’.
Leigh made an application to Mobility Dogs for a service dog in 2009. In November 2011, our Canine Team visited Leigh with two of the Trust’s dogs in training: black Labrador, Ice and golden retriever, Gandalf. As Leigh notes, her ‘very small lounge was rather crowded with two full grown dogs lounging around on my floor and the four adults present. Gandalf and Ice sprawled themselves out, not the least bit interested in me, while I was a bundle of nerves and excitement and eager to wrap my arms around either, or both Service Dogs – if I got the chance!’
Leigh’s desire to get up close with one of the dogs was fulfilled when Natalie formally introduced Ice to Leigh. ‘I was instructed to use the command “lap” when Ice approached me. Once I issued the command Ice put both front paws gently upon my lap, giving me the much anticipated opportunity of wrapping my arms around him and giving him a cuddle and pat. At that moment I was in heaven!’
Early in 2012 the Canine Team made the decision that Ice was a good match for Leigh. On March 12th Ice arrived with Grant, our Southern Lakes District Coordinator, and Leigh’s Mobility Dog journey began with much excitement, tears, frustration, joy and exhaustion!
Over the ensuing two weeks Leigh learned to care and command Ice with Leigh taking on full responsibility by the end of her training. By this time a strong bond between Leigh and Ice had developed. Each day was filled with a number of activities from going to the park, shopping, learning grooming techniques, and going to the new Court Theatre to enjoy a performance of Calendar Girls. At the end of the performance the cast sat on stage for a question and answer session. As Grant, Ice and Leigh tried to leave they caught the attention of the cast. Annie Whittle was very intrigued by Ice, and asked Leigh to explain how he helps her.
Ice does a range of tasks for Leigh that she finds invaluable. He picks up items she drops, tugs off socks, and tugs at jacket sleeves so she can get her arms out easily. Additionally, Grant and Leigh taught Ice to collect the mail. A satchel is put in the mailbox and Leigh instructs Ice to “get the bag”. He races off, gets the bag, and brings it to Leigh. Leigh proudly tells us Ice’s daily mail collection is ‘a wonderful task that makes my life easier.’
More importantly for Leigh is the companionship that Ice provides, keeping her company throughout the day. She regularly walks him at the local park, where Ice gets the opportunity to race around chasing a ball with great energy, never appearing to tire himself out! Leigh has also noticed that when they are out in public ‘people approach me now whereas before they avoided me! The public are very curious about how Ice assists me, and I am more than happy to explain all the marvellous things he does.’
Leigh is especially grateful to the Norwood Trust and Bishopdale Rotary Club for their support in helping fund Ice’s placement fee.
Posted: Tue 24 Apr 2012
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