~ Alana and Gus ~
Mobility dog, Gus, found his person, Alana in 2018. It was a 3-year wait for Alana to be paired, but it was definitely well worth the wait. The first time the two met each other was love at first sight. Alana thought Gus was gorgeous and loved his soulful eyes and fluffy ears. They were paired through the Mobility Dogs Trust. The Mobility Dogs Trust is a non-profit organisation who train dogs to aid those with physical disabilities.
Alana has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a group of genetic connective tissue disorders. For Alana, one aspect of this means she can experience multiple joint dislocations. She had surgery to help with her knee, although unfortunately, this made things worse. A year after the surgery, Alana was in a minor car accident which resulted in her developing intracranial hypertension and a cerebrospinal fluid (CFS) leak. Intracranial hypertension is when there is too much fluid on the brain, and so Alana now has a shunt to drain the fluid. Unfortunately, because it took a while for Alana to get these results, she developed epilepsy. Following both these awful incidents, Alana had to re-learn how to walk.
This affected Alana’s mobility and other areas of her life immensely. She lost the ability to walk after this. As well as this, she lost feeling in both her legs. She has a mobility scooter, and can have some mobility, but only with some support. It was because of this, she decided to look into getting a mobility dog.
Since having Gus in her life, Alana’s life has changed. Alana has had more independence and confidence. As with other mobility dogs, Gus helps Alana with physical tasks. He can shut doors, cupboards and drawers, pick things up off the ground, hold items for Alana, alert bark, and much more.
For a long time, Alana couldn’t be left home alone as she would have up to 10 seizures per day. Having Gus means that Alana can be home alone and go out by herself. He picks up when Alana is not well and will alert her to anything that may seem suspicious.
Gus had not been trained as a seizure dog, although he quickly learnt the signs Alana would show if she was about to have a seizure. In the last two years, Gus has supported Alana through 50 seizures. He would not leave her side nor lay down until he knew Alana was okay and someone else had come to help. The first week they were together, Gus barked to alert others that Alana had stopped breathing as a result of a seizure. Alana believes that because of this, Gus helped her come out of the seizure a lot quicker than normal.
As well as this, Alana has also experienced significantly less joint dislocations. Gus had been trained as a balancing dog, meaning Alana can balance herself with support from Gus. He has a brace that Alana holds onto and Gus’ momentum keeps her balanced and moving. Before having Gus, Alana hadn’t crossed a road in over 4 years. Now, she has the confidence to do this, thanks to Gus. Not only can Alana cross the street, but she can walk and bus anywhere she wants, and has more independence than she thought she could before having Gus.
If Alana had a fluid build-up in her brain, Gus would let her know – before she was even aware! He would sit in front of her and maintain constant eye contact. Once this subsided, Gus would relax as he knew Alana was safe.
When Gus isn’t supporting Alana as a mobility dog, the two enjoy spending time together. As a golden retriever, Gus adores swimming and is very confident in the water. They both enjoy going out together and going for walks, and Gus is always happy to support Alana whenever she needs him. As well as this, Gus loves to play hide and seek with Alana and would happily play this for hours!
It is evident how much they care for each other. Gus means the world to Alana, and Gus obviously thinks the world of her. The way he cares for his human is amazing. Alana is thankful to have Gus in her life. They make an incredible team and the love between them is very strong.