Meet Chorizo, the tiny dachshund making a big impact as the UK's first dachshund assistance dog. Despite her small size, Chorizo is a huge help to her owner, who has Multiple Sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.

"Now, the client is much less anxious, so she doesn’t panic as much. Before, she wasn’t really present in the situation and would be too worried and watching for people."

Chorizo recently graduated from Support Dogs’ disability assistance training program, and her new skills have transformed her owner's life. At home, Chorizo opens and closes doors, picks up dropped items like keys and phones, and ensures her owner’s leg, which has nerve damage, is protected from bumps. "She opens and closes a door in the client’s house which is impossible for her to do in a wheelchair," said Support Dogs instructor Nicola Wood. "She picks up keys and the client’s phone when she drops them and walks beside her leg, ensuring no one can bang into it."

The client, diagnosed with MS in 2016 and wheelchair-bound a year later, feared going out due to severe pain and sensitivity in her leg. With Chorizo walking beside her wheelchair, she feels safer and more confident in public. "The client’s skin is so sensitive, she can’t have anything touch it," explained Nicola. "She was too scared to go out on her own."

Chorizo's journey began just before the pandemic, with training resuming in 2022 after delays due to lockdown and illness. They graduated as a successful team last year, joining the ranks of other unconventional assistance dog pairings trained by Support Dogs. 

"Chorizo is a good example of the variety of dogs that we train to assist their owners in lots of different ways. It’s not just Labradors that make good assistance dogs."

Nicola praised Chorizo’s quick learning and versatility, highlighting that assistance dogs come in all shapes and sizes, not just Labradors. "Chorizo was a pleasure to train. She was such a quick learner and can do everything a bigger dog can do, within reason," Nicola said. 

Chorizo's story is a testament to the incredible difference that assistance dogs can make, regardless of their breed.