Helping puppies become mobility dogs

By andreasvendsen on January 1, 2017

Meet little Theo, a 10-week old Golden Retriever puppy who is already beautifully trained.

And by the time he is two years old, Theo will be a faithful companion to someone who needs him more than just a pet.

Theo is a mobility dog in training.

He and others like him are trained to give support to people with mobility problems caused by disabilities such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spinal and brain injuries.

The Harcourts corporate team has chosen to support the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust, which trains dogs such as Theo at a cost of $50,000 each.

Through the Harcourts Foundation, they corporate team has donated money to buy 20 branded jackets which are worn by the mobility dogs. These jackets help identify the special job the dogs do and allow them access into areas normally restricted to animals.

Head trainer Natalie Ram says each dog needs at least three jackets, extra small, small and large, as they grow bigger during training.

The Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust trains up to 25 Golden Retrievers and Labrador Golden Retriever crosses every year.

When they are young, like Theo, they receive basic training. At the age of 16-17 months they are matched with their future companion and receive specialist training according to the disability they will be helping.

At two years-old they go home with their new owner and provide support which can include retrieving objects, pulling manual wheelchairs, carrying essential items, helping their owner up after a fall and providing physical support when needed.

Natalie says she has a trained dog almost ready to go to a young man who, due to his disability, is always suspected of being drunk or on drugs when he is out in public. With a mobility dog by his side people will understand he has a disability and be less judgemental.

“He can’t wait for his dog to arrive. It will give him his life back. He’s housebound at the moment, but soon he’ll be able to go out again.”

Harcourts Foundation ambassador Emma Revell says she is proud to be supporting such an amazing charity.

“We were lucky enough to have little Theo visit us at the corporate office and it was very special to see him at the beginning of his training wearing one of the jackets we have helped to buy.”