Did you know that we have an ongoing relationship with Integra Service Dogs? For the uninitiated, Integra provide assistance dogs for military Veterans and first responders that are suffering from PTSD.
When we are training our dogs to become Seeing Eye Dogs, it sometimes becomes apparent that some of them may be better suited to another line of work. Our relationship with Integra allows us to provide them with some of our dogs that may end up better equipped to serve their organisation.
Rumer is one of those dogs, and she has been matched with Debra for the past few years. Debra comes from a background in the military, a multimedia technician who specialised in software and technical drawings.
When it came to the possibility of being matched with an assistance animal, Debra wasn’t quite on board. “I was terrified of letting the animal down initially” she says. “At a meeting with Integra, one of the other people there brought a dog in with them. This dog sat next to me and leant on me. At that moment I was gone, if it was possible I’d love to have one.”
Luckily for Debra, it was incredibly possible. While discussing the process she was shown a picture of a dog she instantly fell in love with. “I remember saying ‘Oh my God, she’s beautiful’ and then being told that it doesn’t work that way, you get matched based on other criteria” Debra says. “It turns out, in this specific case that is how it works because the dog in the picture was Rumer, who I am now matched with.”
Debra and Rumer share a connection is truly unique, and that Debra had never thought possible to have with a dog. “One time I had to look into my repressed memories, it was awful. I’m there with my psychologist and Rumer must have known I was upset as she started whimpering. That was one of the moments I realised this wasn’t just a dog.”
Rumer has brought Debra back to the world in ways she didn’t think possible. “With her, I see things that were lost to me. The other day the autumn leaves were falling and it’s a bright summer day, she’s enabled me to stop and smell the roses and released me from the coma I’ve been in for the past few years. I haven’t noticed autumn the past six years, but you play with her, she’s happy and chasing a ball, you throw it into the leaves and she gets lost in them. She’s always close to me, like my little shadow. If I’m gone for a few minutes she’ll come and find me. She doesn’t always stay, but if she can sniff and check I’m there, sometimes that’s enough for her.”
When all is said and done, Rumer has managed to impact Debra’s life for the better in a number of ways. But it’s safe to say there is one particular aspect she hadn’t anticipated. “When we first got her and she came home, she fitted in straight away. Rumer moults so much I had to buy a Dyson, but she’s so gorgeous that I think I can let it slide.”
For more information about Integra and the work they do, click here.