Meet Kevin, the ex-rescue centre dog whose life is being turned around as he trains to be a life-transforming hero support dog.

The yellow Labrador is in training with the charity Support Dogs after arriving from Dogs’ Trust Loughborough last year. And he’s well on the way to being a valued disability assistance dog for Wendy Martin, from Erdington, Birmingham.

Kevin is only two years old but already has been on quite a journey.

After his original owner was unable to care for him due to a change in their circumstances, Kevin was handed over to Dogs’ Trust so that he could find a new permanent home. Staff at the rehoming centre recognised the pooch’s potential and teamed up with Support Dogs, who often train ex-rescue centre dogs to become life-changing assistance dogs.

Support Dogs is a national charity, based in Sheffield, which provides assistance dogs for children with autism and adults with epilepsy and physical disability, and is known as the charity that gives dogs a second chance, specialising in training rescue dogs.

Wendy, aged 52, has limited mobility due to disc degeneration in the base of her spine and neck and the pain syndrome fibromyalgia, and has needed the use of a wheelchair for the past 20 years. Since she separated from her husband, who was her full-time carer, five years ago her support dogs have been essential in enabling her to live independently.

Her previous assistance dog Oscar has recently retired after eight years and is now a family pet, and she and Kevin and now getting to know each other.

“Kevin’s doing really well,” reports Wendy.  “It’s as if he’s been with us for much longer than just a few weeks. He’s settled in, and is eager to work hard.  He’s more energetic than Oscar, who’s willing to let Kevin do all the work, while Oscar has a well-deserved retirement!”

Kevin’s role as a disability assistance dog is to carry out essential everyday tasks around the house, such as helping Wendy dress and undress, pick up dropped items, and pressing Wendy’s emergency button as required.

“He can now empty a full washing machine and open doors, and we’re just practising how to fetch help at the moment,” adds Wendy.

“He’s going to be a great support dog.”

Wendy hopes she and Kevin will qualify as a full-fledged Support Dogs’ partnership in the autumn.

Support Dogs received more than 4, 400 requests for its services in the past year from individuals and families in need, and has a long waiting list. It recruits prospective assistance dogs from a variety of sources including other Assistance Dogs UK charities, rescue centres, council dog pounds, and unwanted pets.

Danny Anderson, fundraising manager at Support Dogs, said: “We work with a variety of dogs, including those from rescue centres or unwanted pets. We don’t have our own breeding programme and love being able to give an amazing dog a second chance and transform them into a lifesaver.

“Seeing the journey of dog that was unwanted to being able to make such a positive impact on someone’s life is very special.”

  • Wendy and Kevin’s story will feature on Channel 5’s The Dog Rescuers with Alan Davies on Tuesday July 31 at 8pm. You can watch a preview below