FROM putting clothes in the washing machine, to picking up rubbish and helping to make the bed, Bella the dog does countless things every day to help her disabled owner.
The cocker spaniel, which is almost three, has provided a lifeline to Lynn Stacey, who is battling debilitating ME as well as several other conditions.
The pooch has only recently become a qualified “assistance dog” through the charity Dog Aid.
“Each dog is trained specially for what their owner needs them for,” said Lynn, 47, of Hetton.
“She helps me open and close doors, puts rubbish in the bin and she can undress me and even pass me a towel when I’m getting in and out of the shower.
“She even makes the bed by pulling the quilt back up. The list of what she can do is almost endless and when people see her they just can’t believe their eyes.”
As well as having ME, Lynn has also has fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and spondylosis, all of which affect her movement. It means that although she can walk, she relies on a wheelchair to get about.
She said: “It’s helped me a lot more now that Bella has passed her full qualification to be an assistance dog.
“It normally takes between 18 months and two years but Bella has done it in just over a year.
“People think you need a new dog but the trainers can train your own dog up like they have with mine.
“You already have a bond with your pets but this made it even stronger.”
And as Bella has become more important to Lynn, she has been able to spread the word about worth of assistance dogs.
The inseparable pair were recently at Wadham Court care home, in Ryhope, as Bella performed tricks as part of a fund-raising event which gathered almost £370 in donations from residents.
“It is like an emotional reassurance that she is there for me,” said Lynn.
“A lot of people don’t know what an assistance dog is, but they don’t understand that you can get help like this if you need it, especially if you live alone.”
For more details about getting support from Dog Aid, go to www.dogaid.org.uk.