International Assistance Dog day: My dog gave me my life back
We are well aware of the close relationship we have with our pets, but some pets have a life-changing impact. To mark International Assistance Dog Day, on 4 August, CRM Business Consultant Anouk Otjens discusses how the assistance dogs have changed the life for the better for so many people.

Assistance dogs benefit people around the world and support those who need support. So it’s important that the organisations that train assistance dogs also receive our backing. Twice a year, Elanco employees in the Benelux region visit the charity Stichting Assistentiehond Nederland (Assistance Dog Netherlands). We help with everything from cleaning to making toys for puppies.

Elanco has also adopted a puppy at the organisation, paying for its training to ultimately become an assistance dog and benefit someone like Chelsea.

Chelsea’s four-legged friend is not just a dog, but an assistance dog. She trained Hailey from when she was a puppy, thanks to help from Stichting Assistentiehond Nederland. She says Hailey has helped improve her quality of life: “The difference in my life has been huge! My dog helps me to have the courage to go outside and to live again.  

“Thanks to my assistance dog Hailey and the support of the foundation, lots of life’s basic pleasures are now available to me. I can now go to the shops, school and the cinema – all places I couldn’t go to before because I was afraid.”

Chelsea explains that her body can often let her down, which impacts her mind and vice versa. This leads to Chelsea becoming stressed and anxious, making some everyday activities extremely difficult. But Hailey helps alleviate this problem.

“My assistance dog supports me by pointing out, among other things, when my stress or anxiety levels are rising. Hailey helps distracts and comforts me, so my stress levels decrease. As a result of what my assistance dog does for me, I have my life back!”

Looking at Chelsea from the outside, you wouldn’t really notice anything different. Assistance dogs can support people with visible disabilities, but they can also help with health issues that are not visible.

Chelsea says it’s important that these ‘invisible’ health issues are understood by society: “An understanding of these invisible health conditions is lacking in society sometimes, so I would like to raise awareness of all the different types of assistance dogs and their owners with the different visible and invisible disability’s.

“That’s why two other volunteers and wanted to support the Antwerp 10 Miles run in April. I wanted to increase awareness for our amazing assistance dogs, talk to people about the amazing difference an assistance dog can make to people’s lives, as well as support Elanco’s sponsorship of assistance dog Izaa who is in training.”

A total of €5,700 was raised on the day, all of which will go to Stichting Assistentiehond Nederland to be used in the training of Izaa, so she can become a stable and fine assistance dog. Chelsea hopes that the support assistance dogs offer can continue to grow through organisations and charities such as Stichting Assistentiehond Nederland:

“‘Together strong, together independent’ is our slogan and I hope Izaa will be able to transform someone’s life in the same way my assistance dog has for me.”

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