One year ago today, Molly qualified as my Assistance Dog. What was almost three years of hard work, culminated in us passing our level 3 assessment.
I will admit, there were times where I thought Molly would never make it. We struggled at times but it always came down to me; Molly is so in tune with me and after mum's brain tumour diagnosis, surgery and complications, I was in a very dark place mentally which severely impacted upon Molly. She couldn't cope with me being so sad, negative, irritable and anxious and as a result she wasn't performing or behaving in her normal way, almost acting out. She was feeding off my negativity and mood and acting strangely. Sure enough, as my mood lifted and I became more positive, happy and settled, as if by magic Molly was back on top form. She is so very in tune with me. Sometimes I don't realise I'm in a bad mood until Molly acts oddly and I realise that it's me.
In this year since she qualified, we've done so much. Molly has blossomed. She absolutely adores her job. Walkies has always been one of Molly's favourite things to do, along with training, but these have been far surpassed by her love of working. If her working jacket comes out or she knows we're going somewhere, she is so excited. She loves her job, loves helping me and loves accompanying me to places. She takes everything in her stride, with a smile on her face and a wag of her tail. I love having her beside me, too. We're a great team. I owe Molly so much.
In the year since qualification, we've been to so many places. From the House of Commons to the Shard, from the London Eye to the Royal College of Physicians, from the Sealife Centre to the Emirates Cable Cars, from BBC Essex to Badminton Horse Trials and more. Molly's come to a variety of my charity events, from meetings for charities including NCPC/Hospice UK meetings to Pseudo Obstruction Research Trust meetings to NICE committee meetings, to national conferences such as RISE4Disability (of which our next one is RISE Maidstone) and the Big Bowel Event, to small group meetings, as well as our visit to the House of Commons for Together for Short Lives. We even took part in the Twilight Colourthon in July to raise money for charity. Molly is a well travelled dog!
Molly's visited a number of different hospitals where I receive my care, presided over many of my tests including nerve conduction studies, X-rays, blood tests and ultrasounds, she's met a number of my consultants and been photographed to show family members and even appeared in one of my consultant's clinic letters!
Molly and I have grown over the last year. Our bond is stronger than ever, we enjoy exploring the world and dealing with life's challenges side by side and Molly adores helping me in every way that she can. Whilst she may be qualified, learning never stops and we've continued to learn things as we go about our lives, such as Molly passing the cashier my purse, pressing door entry buttons and turning on the light.
Molly was also awarded the PDSA Order of Merit in October (but not publicised until January this year) and we did a lot of work to raise awareness of International Assistance Dog Week in August.
We've achieved an awful lot together. We are a team, a partnership and we face life together. Molly is always there helping me and giving me the strength to keep going even on the most difficult of days. Our love and our bond knows no bounds. A dream team, if you will.
I just want to thank you all for your support. You are a huge support to Molly and I and on bad days we can revisit your comments for inspiration, and on good days we rejoice in your comments on our posts.
We hope you will continue to follow our journey for years to come.
Lucy and Molly