Wellingborough woman over the moon with assistance dog Luna
A Wellingborough woman has had her life transformed by a four-legged assistant called Luna.
Allison Fenlan became socially isolated and depressed after an accident followed by illness left her housebound and reliant on a wheelchair.
The 58-year-old former teacher's life has now been transformed thanks to an assistance dog.
Allison said: "She’s an absolute treasure, and has completely changed my life.
“I talk to her and she understands every word, it’s very difficult to describe the overall effect she’s had on my life apart from to say it’s been completely transformed.
“The pain was very debilitating and depressing but now I feel like I’ve come back to life."
Before Luna, the former primary school teacher could spend several weeks at home in her pyjamas because she was in so much pain.
Following an accident at work, which caused a severe back injury, Allison took early retirement from a job that she loved when she was just 40.
She was initially told that she had soft tissue damage but then a malformation was found at the bottom of her spine, which had been made worse by the accident.
Suddenly she found herself at home every day and having to use a wheelchair to get around.
Allison was diagnosed with breast cancer a year later, after she found a lump. She received prompt treatment but it affected her lymph gland. She developed Lymphedema in her left arm - which being left-handed restricted her movement - and made using a manual wheelchair almost impossible.
Allison said: “My disabilities meant that everyday things like getting dressed, grocery shopping and doing the laundry really took it out of me in terms of ‘available’ energy and I was exhausted. I had very little energy left to go out and do the things I loved doing.
"As a result, I became very insular; sometimes not going out for a week or so and spending more and more time in my pyjamas. The internet became quite important and I’d quite often spend the afternoon in bed.”
After meeting someone with an assistance dog, Allison found out about Dogs for Good and filled in an application form.
Then she attended a Dogs for Good information day. She said: “I went with my mum and the day was brilliant. I realised that if I was lucky enough to get matched with a dog, I could start to do things independently and, as much as I love my mum, I could do things without her having to be there to assist me all the time.”
Allison was eventually matched-up with a four-legged friend - a yellow labrador called Luna - and bond between them was almost instantaneous.
She said: “She was so lovely and charming. I couldn’t stop stroking her on that day and nothing’s really changed. She’s extended my day. I now have the energy to do the fun, good stuff and we’re inseparable. We go out every day and because of that, I’ve met so many new friends and joined local clubs and activities.
"I used to feel self-conscious in my wheelchair because people would stare and pity me – they now stare at my beautiful Luna and that’s fine with me.”
Luna has learnt to pick up dirty clothes and pop them into the laundry basket and she also picks up mail, passes Allison her clothes every morning and picks up things for her from the lower shelves in the supermarket.
Allison added: “She makes me laugh every day and I am seeing her cheeky side emerge. She’s a real character...everybody should have a Luna. If Dogs for Good can help more people like me that would be fantastic.”
For more information about Dogs for Good click here.