A Sunderland woman has raised over £400 for a dog charity.
Leonie Zacharias raised the money with the help of her dog Alex.
The administration assistant from Sunderland helped to organise a fundraising event at Newton Community Hall with dog training company – Have A Good Dog.
She did this to raise funds for Dog Assistance in Disability (Dog A.I.D) helping people with disabilities to lead an independent life.
The 51-year-old has personal reasons for helping the charity, as her partner, Barry, has benefited from their dog training and support when they decided to train Alex.
Ms Zacharias said: “After being a bus driver for so many years, a job he loved, Barry unfortunately developed peripheral neuropathy – a painful and debilitating condition which affected his hands and feet and meant he had to give up his job.
“To help maintain his independence, we took on a black Labrador puppy and decided to train him to help Barry around the house and out in the community.”
The dog Alex has achieved his Level 1 in skills training, meaning he is able to pick up Barry’s walking stick or keys, and even open the door for him.
Ms Zacharias added: “Alex can now progress to his next level of training, which is already making such a difference to Barry’s quality of life.
“I wanted to help this great cause and give something back, so I worked with Vicky and Dog A.I.D to help organise a fundraising day, with workshops to help dog owners teach their beloved pets new skills, and selling tickets and collecting raffle prizes and gifts for the tombola stall.
“Our Christmas fundraiser for Dog A.I.D was a huge success and I am delighted with the support we have received.
“As a trainer for Dog A.I.D, I see first-hand how dogs in training progress to become fully qualified assistance dogs and the difference this makes to clients day-to-day lives. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated and gave their support to make the event successful.”
Lynn Stacey, 49, from Ryhope, an associated trick dog instructor who fundraises for the Dog A.I.D, has also experienced the benefits that a specially trained assistance dog can bring.
She suffers from a number of disabilities and her fully qualified assistance dog Bella helps with everyday tasks such as putting clothes in the washing machine, closing the curtains and making the bed.
Ms Stacey said: “My assistance dog Bella makes such a difference to my life, the work Dog A.I.D. does has enabled me to become more independent, so I jumped at the opportunity to help raise fund for Dog A.I.D.
“We had a great time at the fundraiser, Bella showed some of her tasks and tricks and our trainer Vicky was on hand to help teach the other dogs some new skills. Thanks to Leonie for all her hard work and amazing amount was raised.”
Additional support was provided by The Stables pub, which donated two lunch vouchers, The Bridge Hair studio donated a free cut and blow dry treatment and Sunderland United Football Club donated a signed football.
Dog A.I.D is an assistance dog organisation which works with clients to train their own pet dog to help them with daily tasks such as opening doors, closing the curtains and making the bed.