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Alex bites the red ribbon!

Smiling sun 'Top Dog' Alex opens local pet store!

Jooly's Joint member Kim Bartlett from Fetcham in the UK receives some extra help with his day-to-day tasks in the form of his assistance dog 'Alex'!

As well as helping Kim around the home, and even the office, Alex became a local celebrity when he was asked to cut (well, bite!) the red ribbon to open a new brance of 'Pets at Home' stores.

Kim tells us more about the special day...

"The Pet Supermarket chain, Pets at Home, raises money for Dogs for the Disabled (DfD), a UK based charity that trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities. I'm lucky enough to have one.

"As part of the Sponsorship deal, DfD provide an owner and their dog to make guest appearances at their stores. A new store was opening in Crawley, and Alex and I were the nearest, and therefore were asked to 'cut the ribbon.'

" Matching an applicant with a dog, forms a partnership. The applicant then receives 2 weeks intensive training in dog handling, grooming, treating minor ailments and how to work with his or her allocated dog. The dogs themselves will already have been trained for 18 months to two years to do a variety of tasks. My dog, Alex, for instance, will pick up things I've dropped, open and close doors, press buttons in lifts (elevators) and even load the washing machine.

"His most important task is to bark on command. This has been extremely useful on several occasions and once even managed to attract attention when my wife had fallen heavily when out walking him in nearby woods.

"He is constantly at my side, at home or in work, where he even has his own security pass. At work, he acts as a messenger for me to the Project Secretary, ferrying files and letters between Carol and myself. In the office he is on hand to instantly respond to my commands should I be in need his help. True, he does spend a lot of his time sleeping, but then wouldn't we all like a job like that.

"Finally, he has one hidden talent that is worth more than his weight in gold. He is the best 'Babe Magnet' I've ever known!"

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