Hot dog Chorizo spices up Support Dogs client’s life

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Meet Chorizo – the UK’s first official dachshund assistance dog. Although she may be tiny in size, she is proving to be a huge help to her owner, who has Multiple Sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.

Pet dog Chorizo recently graduated from Support Dogs’ disability assistance training programme, passing her assessment with flying colours. Chorizo’s graduation means her owner – who has a dachshund shrine at home, including a sausage dog-themed gravy pot, plant pots, Lego, lights, trinket box and cork opener – can now leave the house on her own.
Chorizo was trained by Support Dogs instructor Nicola Wood.

Explaining how Chorizo helps her owner at home and out and about, Nicola said, “She opens and closes a door in the client’s house which is impossible for her to do in a wheelchair, she picks up keys and the client’s phone when she drops them and walks beside her leg, which has nerve damage, ensuring no one can bang into it.”

“Chorizo was a pleasure to train. She was such a quick learner and can do everything a bigger dog can do, within reason”

Both the client and her husband love Chorizo even more now that she has super skills to help her owner to be more independent. The client was diagnosed with MS in 2016 and began using a wheelchair a year later. Her condition left her with huge amounts of pain in her leg and she was scared to go out for fear of it getting knocked.

“The client’s skin is so sensitive, she can’t have anything touch it,” said Nicola. “She was too scared to go out on her own.”

But Chorizo keeps people away from her leg, walking by her wheelchair. “Now, the client is much less anxious, so she doesn’t panic as much. Before, she wasn’t really present in the situation and would be too worried and watching for people,” added Nicola.

The client applied for a place on the Support Dogs programme just before the pandemic, and started training at the end of 2019. However, training was delayed during lockdown and after she fell ill. She and Chorizo resumed their Support Dogs training in 2022 and they graduated, becoming a successful partnership, towards the end of last year.

They follow in the pawprints of a number of non-conventional pairings, including Lhasa apso Tinks and owner Charli, as seen on CBeebies’ Dog Squad, and Digby the Dalmatian and owner Katie.

Nicola said, “Chorizo was a pleasure to train. She was such a quick learner and can do everything a bigger dog can do, within reason. Chorizo is a good example of the variety of dogs that we train to assist their owners in lots of different ways. It’s not just Labradors that make good assistance dogs.”

This is a guest post by Support Dogs. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

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