Pets bring their owners happiness in all kinds of ways – but for Judith Margolis, Blue Cross rescue dog Fudge is not only a trusty companion, he’s her lifeline to the outside world.
When the former university lecturer started to need a wheelchair due to a progressive brain disorder 13 years ago, she felt totally isolated and unable to leave her home.
“You become invisible in a wheelchair,” she said. “Sixty-five per cent of people say that if they see someone in a wheelchair they won’t talk to them because they don’t know what to say, so it’s very lonely.
“Bearing in mind my profession was teaching, I was used to interacting with people all the time so it was really, really difficult.”
Judith, 66, who has cerebella ataxia – a rare condition which affects coordination – became increasingly depressed until, five years ago, she decided to rehome a dog.
Alfie, an abandoned lhasa apso puppy found tied up outside a rescue centre, became her saviour and was trained by the charity Support Dogs to provide assistance to Judith.