Riley is now a life-changing friend to Ella

Ella Wilson of Middleton Cheney with her new disabled 'owner' Riley. NNL-140514-114629001
Ella Wilson of Middleton Cheney with her new disabled 'owner' Riley. NNL-140514-114629001

A rescue dog from Dogs for the Disabled in Banbury has become a life-changing assistant to a woman in Middleton Cheney.

Riley the black Labrador has been matched with his new owner Ella Wilson after qualifying as a fully-fledged assistance dog on Tuesday.

Chris Allen, dog supply manager at Dogs for the Disabled, said: “As soon as we saw him we selected him straight away; we knew he had the potential to be an assistance dog.

“We are so pleased Riley has done so well. Hopefully we’ll be able to take on and train other rescue dogs in the future.”

Riley went to Dogs for the Disabled in Blacklocks Hill from the Lewknor Blue Cross rescue centre in south Oxfordshire, having proved too boisterous for the family who owned him.

He was trained at the Banbury centre and boarded with volunteers in Bloxham, Greatworth and Bicester.

Ella applied for an assistance dog after her partner sadly died.

She has osteoarthritis which makes it painful and impossible for her to perform many everyday tasks. Her son Tom had cared for her since he was 15 and while he was at university.

Riley will pick up dropped items from the floor, take off socks and other articles of clothing, fetch or reach articles, push call and access buttons and give Ella the confidence to manage daily life without always relying on others for assistance.

Ella said: “Riley has turned my life around completely.

“He’s my companion, but he’s also made my life so much easier. He is a real character too and brings me joy every day.”

Dogs for the Disabled has trained more than 680 assistance dogs to date and currently has more than 280 working in England and Wales.

There are 173 assistance dogs working in partnership with adults with disability and 61 working with children with a disability. The charity must raise £12,000 to fund each dog from birth to fully trained assistance dog and nearly £20,000 to fund a dog for its working life.