A disabled Amersham woman has spoken of her gratitude after her pet dog qualified as her assistance dog to help her live her life more independently.

Ruth Spurr, 24, suffers from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which causes multi-systemic problems throughout her body.

Her pet dog Willow recently qualified to be her assistance dog after training with Dog A.I.D, which trains dogs to become assistance pets to people over the age of 15 with disabilities.

Speaking about her condition, Ruth said: “My conditions mean daily life is harder than most and you rely heavily on family, friends and carers to do the smallest of things.

“Being a full-time wheelchair user means just bending down to pick things up is difficult, carrying items to and from one place, opening doors, doing household chores, getting undressed and basically being anything other than independent.

“Then Willow came along and changed all that.

“I didn’t get Willow with the intention of her becoming my assistance dog, she was my pet first. It was only through a close friend I found out about Dog A.I.D, and for the first time thought maybe having an assistance dog could be possible.

“Because Dog A.I.D helps you train your own pet dog, no matter the breed (if they have the right temperament) I realised that maybe Willow could be that dog and change my life – not just emotionally but practically too.”

Ruth and Willow went along to the training sessions, which she says helped her become more empowered and gave her something to focus away from her illness and treatment.

Willow now helps Ruth with day-to-day tasks such as opening and closing doors in her flat, fetching her post, helping her to get dressed and then taking the washing out. She is also trained to fetch Ruth’s alarm when she collapses and find help if she becomes unconscious.

Ruth added: “Now I have Willow by my side anything is possible, I can be so much more independent because the tasks others used to have to do for me, Willow can now do. Willow gives me confidence when out and about.

“I’m so grateful to Dog A.I.D and my trainer Laura Ward, as without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“They’ve given me a new lease of life and best of all I’m doing it with my best friend by my side. Willow is everything to meand although I can’t change my illness or what the future holds, I know it’ll be okay as whatever happens Willow is with me and together we’re an unstoppable team.”