Disabled Lewes woman Mandy Edwards, whose life was transformed by an assistance dog, has been spearheading a national fundraising initiative.
She is supporting Canine Partners after Dog Training Weekly named her labrador cross golden retriever Tally as Dog of the Year.
Mandy, 51, was chosen by readers of the magazine to lead its 2013 campaign to raise £10,000 for the charity to mark its 50th anniversary.
And now as the end of the year approaches Tally’s Golden Quest has almost reached its target with an incredible anonymous donation of more than £7,000.
But Mandy doesn’t want to leave matters to chance and is appealing for help to hit that magic £10,000 target in time for Christmas.
She said: “It would be wonderful if we could reach the total because £10,000 is what it costs to train a puppy all the way through its early months until it is ready for advanced training and partnering with a disabled applicant. To think that Tally’s Golden Quest would be able to start another assistance dog off on its rewarding journey is fantastic.”
Mandy won the Dog Training Weekly contest to find an incredible partnership with her assistance dog Tally in January. Readers who voted for the winner in the contest were touched and amazed by the depth of the bond between Tally and her partner and agreed that her story was indeed a special one.
In her original submission Mandy said: “My life was wonderful, full of promise and hope. It was at that point that disaster struck. I had suffered a spinal cord injury, which was a rare form of compression caused by a double disc prolapse behind my ribs, the implications of which had been missed and I had continued to damage my spine by walking and ignoring the daily grinding pain.
“By the time I received the news that the damage to my spinal cord would now be permanent, I was using a wheelchair, wearing adult nappies and relying on my 14-year-old son David to wash me, shop, cook and clean.
“I discovered Canine Partners accidentally. Then I met Tally and my life changed instantly. Tally and I became a team. She has given me a real sense of belonging, something I completely lost when I became disabled.
“When people ask me how Tally helps me I always tell them she is my right arm. She gives me confidence to face the world as a disabled woman, something I never thought I could do.
“We face the world together, Tally and I. My son trusts Tally and knows that she will look after me. We both owe her so very much.”