Amanda Radforth has suffered from ill health for much of her 51 years, but for the past two decades her life has been transformed by three very special dogs.

First Charlie, then Kobi, and now Dolly – all three are or have been disability assistance dogs provided by Support Dogs, a national charity that gives people with autism, epilepsy or disability a greater level of safety and independence.

Amanda, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that leads to deformed and shortened limbs – in her case both arms and both legs. She can’t walk far, and has to use a walker or a scooter outdoors, and is currently waiting for a hip replacement.

She lives with husband Paul, who has spina bifida and is a double amputee.

Amanda’s first two dogs were both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and were both originally pet dogs. Sadly, ill health forced Charlie to retire at just five (the working life of a support dog normally ends at the age of 10) and he was followed by Kobi.  Both were kept on as pets when they retired.

Her current dog Dolly, a chocolate brown Labrador, pictured left with Amanda,  was provided by Support Dogs, and handpicked to match her needs. “I needed a bigger dog to help me in the house, and she’s a great plodder when we’re out, “she explains.

Dolly is thoroughly domesticated, picking things up for Amanda, helping her get undressed, opening and closing doors, emptying the washing machine and fetching the post. She even picks up items off supermarket shelves. And just as important, she’s a fantastic companion.

Amanda feels intense gratitude to Support Dogs for providing her with three life-changing canine companions for the past 20 years. So despite her disability, Amanda helps with Support Dogs’ fundraising events as much as possible, including supermarket and street collections, with Dolly by her side.

She’s always enjoyed the training aspect of having an assistance dog, and the slow build-up of trust and of that special relationship between dog and human.

“I love that light bulb moment in training when the dog ‘gets it’. It’s fantastic,” says Amanda.

“Support Dogs have made such a massive difference to me over so many years and I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without their help.”