How a canine has helped this Lincoln man with cerebral palsy defy the percentages

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A Lincoln man who has been in a wheelchair since he was 14 says a dog helped him deal with it.

Owen Picker, 21, lives in Lincoln and has cerebral palsy quadriplegia, which means he has difficulty controlling movement in his arms and legs.

Day after day, Owen struggles to keep things tight and struggles to pick them up again when they are dropped. This can leave Owen vulnerable if he cannot get help from someone else in an emergency.

But he has not been held back by his disability and is currently studying at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln for a Masters in Special Education with Ula – who is part of the Labrador and Golden Retriever – by his side.

He has had Ula since last September and offers Owen not only physical support but also emotional comfort for the student who previously struggled with depression.

Owen said, “Ula and I have a symbiotic relationship – we are an equal partnership. She’s my best friend, my confidante, and even though we’ve only been together for a short time, it feels a lot longer. “

“She is the most loving, loving, softest and cuddly girl.

“In practical terms, it helps me retrieve items that I drop, such as B. my phone, my controllers and keys, as well as when pulling out, closing and closing doors etc.

“She has also helped me with my reason to get up in the morning and she has helped me find a sense of responsibility for taking care of myself and tidying my room so that she can feel comfortable and safe.”

“I have to make sure that she is okay, and that way I also make sure that I am okay.”

Owen has been on the waiting list for a Dogs for Good dog for more than three years before Ula entered his life.

When he was around 17, Owen and his mother watched a television show about assistance dogs before applying for one themselves.

He added, “Being in university was a big change in transition and I struggled with loneliness and fear in the first year.”

“I’ve eaten too many takeaways, not keeping my living space clean and tidy, and while it’s hard to admit, I’ve definitely gotten into the mindset, ‘I don’t have to do this because my carers will.’ .

“I know it’s a cliché, but I really didn’t have any point. I started to regain a bit of my old resolve and became more interested in the life I could have at university. “

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Last year things started to change for Owen when he received the call that Ula would be available to help.

Katie Anakin, the Dogs for Good instructor, works with Owen and Ula to refine the tasks Ula can do for him.

She said: “Ula and Own are absolutely delighted with each other. Owen loves Ula and they are absolutely brilliant together.

“They bonded very quickly and they loved each other – Ula is almost mother Owen – and it’s really nice to see their bond deepen and grow.”

Owen added that his best friend is getting married in 2023 and has asked him to be the ring bearer – a ceremony where Ula will be the flower girl.