Meet Katrina from Perth, WA and her rescue assistance dog, Lacey. Katrina shared her story with Master Bowie.
How did Lacey come to your life?
Over 7 years ago I began a search for a dog that could possibly learn to alert to my medical condition, do some tasks and help with my active lifestyle. Whilst I was on a waiting list for an assistance dog, a Google search of pet rescue led me to SAFE Perth where I saw the strangest looking pup named Donner.
Lacey (née Donner) was part of a litter that was born on Christmas Day 2011. All were named after reindeers – hers was Donner – though she probably was more of a vixen! She wasn’t the prettiest pup, but her personality won me over.
Lacey is amazing at agility and most of the time I struggle to keep up with her! Her best quality is her heart. I’ve never known a dog with so much empathy for others. Her concern for me is partly trained, but she likes to comfort anyone, even other animals, who are upset or distressed. She is an incredibly kind dog.
Lacey is a WA government approved assistance dog. Lacey’s primary role is a seizure alert and response dog, though she also helps me with some tasks because I have difficulty with balance and perception. She will help guide me on stairs and around edges so I don’t trip, find the exit when I get lost and pick up the several hundred things I drop in a day. At work she collects printing from the photocopier in the foyer and takes paperwork to different people. She gets miffed when people don’t let her do this job.
I had experience in dog training, and with the support of local trainers, I started training with Lacey as a pup – 5 nights every week at Perth dog club and we spent weekends reinforcing her training at various pet friendly locations. She was a naughty puppy, but very smart.
Assistance dogs obviously get trained more. They need to have public access training and be able to perform a number of tasks that may be difficult for most pets to master. You do need a dog that is very steady, not stressed easily and be able to ignore everything around them and concentrate on their job.
What does Lacey mean to you?
For me Lacey is my freedom. Without her I’m alone and at risk. I feel safe with her, knowing that should I need her, she will assist me and get help.
A few years ago I had a seizure and collapsed in an inner city park. Lacey alerted me and I laid on the grass thinking it would pass, but I must have passed out. I didn’t know how long I was out, but people had told me that Lacey had been frantically running around, barking and then returning to me. At first people thought I was simply a drunk sleeping in the park. But when she persisted, they realised there was something wrong.
Without her in these situations, I’m very vulnerable. There is no device that can do what she can. My options without her are very limited. I would need a human to accompany me and I hate to depend on others. Lacey allows me to be independent, to do many things I want, even travelling.
I’m not worried when I’m with her. I know she will look after me. She is my little rat from the shelter guardian angel.
Share your dog story…
We know the difference dogs make to our lives. By sharing your stories, you’re not only inspiring others, but also paying tribute to your fur-mate.
Master Bowie would like to thank Cathy Beer for introducing us to Katrina and Lacey, and Katrina for sharing her beautiful story with us. Katrina and Lacey’s story was a Finalist in the 2018 Advocate® People’s Rescue Story Award. You can also share your Pet Adoption, Rescue & Foster Stories at Companion Animal Rescue Awards, and WIN plenty of prizes. Entries are open until 7th July 2019.