The inspiring story of how Assistance Dog Paddy helped Liz become a para-athlete.
For Wellington-based Liz Gasson, her assistance dog Paddy has become her personal protector and ‘beacon’, taking care of everyday tasks so she can enjoy life and pursue her sporting dreams.
Diagnosed with relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), Paddy can read Liz’s every need. From supporting her to provide balance, to pulling her out of bed, to alerting her when her blood sugar levels drop, he also performs everyday tasks like opening doors and picking things up off the floor.
“Paddy is often a visual indicator that I might need some support. Without him, I was often ignored in public as people didn’t realise what was wrong when I experienced an attack or fall. He’s my immediate back-up system, and gives me the confidence to go out on my own. I feel more seen since I got Paddy, and less isolated and alone; people will go out of their way to help, and Paddy knows how to get people’s attention when I’m in trouble.” Having an assistance dog has given Liz the opportunity to use all her energy to pursue her love of physical activity, becoming a paracyclist in 2019. She is now on the pathway to the Paralympics in 2024. When training and competing, Paddy stays by the side of the velodrome and looks out for Liz.
“He’s so in-tune with me that when I experience any difficulties on the bike, he senses them from the holding box and alerts my coach that there’s an issue. I’ve been able to do more in the last four years of having Paddy than in the last 30 years of having MS.”
ADNZT places dogs with a huge range of disabilities, allowing incredible kiwi's like Liz to live a full and exciting life. We are so proud of Paddy and Liz and their outstanding achievements, and we hope to see Paddy wagging with excitement in the 2024 Paralympics!! Go team PADDY!!