The Golden Retriever “Life Changer”

When Gareth Jones met “Hero,” a Golden Retriever on assessment day at Canine Partners for Independence, he probably hadn’t realized he was meeting a life changer.

Gareth had been disable in a car accident in 1995, and by the time the former soldier met “Hero,” he’d been a tetraplegic (all four limbs affected by paralysis) for five years. Up until then, each day was a constant struggle, a troubled and rocky life made worse by ‘Root Pain’ so incapacitating that only lying down could help.

“Hero” understood that at those times, Gareth was enduring a difficult time. The dog usually rested beside his owner, sometimes with his chin on his. As Gareth wrote in an article, “even if the whole day has passed without a walk, he knows this isn’t the time to insist. He’s just there for me.” As helpful as “Hero” was, he’d never been trained to tow or haul. Who would have expected him to need either skill?

As it turned out, “Hero” knew. When Gareth crossed a field that turned out to be too muddy for his wheelchair, it sank to the extent that it lost all traction. Gareth had left his cell phone at home, the spot was in an isolated location, and storm clouds were moving in. There was no one to rescue him, it was just him and “Hero.”

Gareth remembered that somewhere in his wheelchair, a cord was tucked away, and when he found it, he threw one end to “Hero,” hoping the dog would know what to do. He knew immediately! He put the rope end in his teeth, pulled with all his might, and kept pulling until Gareth and the chair got onto firmer ground. For his devotion and effort, “Hero,” was given an All Star Animal Award in London.

Image: Photo of “Hero”

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