In 2016 and 2017, I found my world slowly contracting to the point where I was struggling to take part fully in my children’s lives and to engage in my studies, which both meant the world to me. I first heard about Integra while researching online about assistance dogs with a medical practitioner. I then asked a Facebook group whether anyone has any previous experience with Integra and received an overwhelmingly positive response of those has. I have now been part of the Integra team for 2 years.
“Integra helped to make partnering with an assistance dog a reality for me.”
From the very start, I was able to meet with more than one potential assistance dog to ensure that we would be a good match. Integra also provided me with advice about the necessary medical paperwork required to allow me to meet with a number of Integra’s dogs over a weekend, and then continued to help me by arranging a trainer in Queensland who could administer the Public Access Test (PAT) once Smudge and I were ready. In addition, to being given my life-saving Smudge, I was given everything she needed from food while she was settling in at her new home, her bedding and all of the necessary equipment that was required for her training both at home and in public places.
“Being a handler with Integra has been a life-changing experience.”
I had spent years wrestling with the idea of an assistance dog, so by the time I decided to actually see whether it would be possible I was pretty much at rock bottom and extremely anxious about every step of the journey. The people I met at Integra were very calm and knowledgeable. Not only did this allow me to feel more calm and well informed about the program, but it allowed me to feel more confident in the huge step I was taking into the unknown; a new life in partnership with an assistance dog.
Partnering with Smudge through Integra’s program and their ongoing generosity has had a profound impact upon my everyday life. My life is no longer contracting into isolation and I feel able to engage in the outdoor activities I love, confident in Smudge’s presence by my side. My studies are back on track, and I feel able to attend the events that are important to my family (who adore her too!).
I would like people to know that Integra offers life-saving help. Partnering with Smudge has changed my world, and my only regret is not reaching out to Integra sooner.