The Banbury Guardian recently visited the home of charity Dogs for Good ahead as part of its 30th anniversary year.
Dog trainer, Melanie Wood, demonstrated to reporter, Kerry Hathway, the techniques assistance dogs are taught before being placed with a family.
Twenty-month-old Sadie, a golden retriever/Labrador cross, has been learning for four months how to carry out activities such as opening doors, opening and closing drawers and undressing her handler.
In February she is due to be placed with a Lincolnshire family where the two children have Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Dogs for Good breed a lot of the assistance dogs themselves and the dogs spend time with a socialiser while learning new skills. Melanie told the Banbury Guardian the dogs all had their own personalities and their favourite tasks.
She said: "We work on their confidence by going to different places like the supermarket, the train station, retail parks and coffee shops, everywhere a family would go. They also learn about not getting distracted by for example other animals or things on the floor.
"We work with different mobility aids from self-propelled wheelchairs to crutches. We teach them various generic things like pushing with their paw, nudging with their nose and closing drawers. We teach them to pull open doors and pull clothes, retrieve things and give them to us. She has also been learning the head rest so if a child is having an injection, she will rest her head on their lap as a calming effect. The family Sadie is going to have a lot of hospital visits because they are trying different treatments for the childrens' condition so Sadie will be helping them with that.
"She is a busy dog, but also quite intuitive."
Pick up a copy of tomorrow's Banbury Guardian for our two-page feature on Dogs for Good.