Client Judith talks about the difference her ex-rescue dogs have made to her life.

Judith Margolis is giving another rescue dog a second chance to be a hero hound.

Five years ago Judith adopted Alfie, a rescue dog from Wood Green Animal Shelter near Cambridge, and who was trained by Support Dogs to make a massive difference to her life.

The former Open University lecturer had to retire early after developing a progressive neurological condition called cerebellar ataxia, which affects co-ordination and speech and by 2006 had left her in a wheelchair.

The pair formed a great partnership, with Alfie giving Judith back the confidence she had lost. The little Lhasa Apso gave Judith the motivation and strength to start living again, and Alfie found a new, loving, home.

Now Judith is having a second shot at giving an unwanted dog another chance. Sadly, after many devoted years, Alfie had to retire from active service early as he started going blind, although he continues to live with Judith as her much-loved pet.

This time Support Dogs sourced a replacement dog from rehoming charity Blue Cross, and Judith and her new disability assistance dog Fudge, a Border Terrier/Pug cross, have now qualified as a new partnership.

Fudge came to Blue Cross animal re-homing centre in Thirsk when he was 14 months old. His owners could no longer care for him and he needed a special home that could accommodate his busy behaviour needs.

Rachael Myers, training and behaviour coordinator at Blue Cross in Thirsk says: "We could see Fudge was a highly intelligent dog who needed jobs to do. We felt he would be best placed in a working home so that he would not get frustrated or bored. He was such a fun character and loved by everyone during his time here at Blue Cross. We are delighted that he is now happily in a new home where his busy nature is being put to such good use."

 “Fudge is completely different from Alfie,” says Judith. “He’s far more enthusiastic, is very good outdoors and has fantastic recall. He brings me my slippers, helps with undressing, opens doors and pick things up He is also a wonderful pain killer; at night he sits on my legs and his warmth and pressure helps so much with my leg pain that I have been able to come off one of my painkillers. They were making my head fuzzy and it’s great to think clearly again.

“He is the most loving, adorable dog I have ever had. He sits on my lap all the time, and loves to be stroked. I’ve had lots of dogs in the past but never had one quite like Fudge.”

Alfie has now got used to sharing the house with a young pretender. “They didn’t get on at first, then Fudge wanted to play but because Alfie is blind he couldn’t see his body language, “says Judith. “Now they co-exist happily together in their own little bubble.”

Judith is able to drive a specially adapted car, and although she can no longer work, she keeps active, describing herself as a ‘serial volunteer’. She’s a support worker for the local MS Society branch, and is chairman of Disability Cambridge, going into the office twice a week with Fudge, who’s become a big favourite with colleagues.

“Support Dogs have changed my life,” she says. “Without a dog I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. It’s great that Fudge can help me around the house but more than the task is that fact that he enables me to go anywhere.

“I used to lecture in front of 300 students, but the illness knocked the confidence out of me. Having a dog has reversed that. I’m no longer invisible. When you’re in a wheelchair people don’t talk to you. But when you have a dog, people stop and chat. Especially when it’s a cute little thing like Fudge!”

Support Dogs – giving unwanted pets a second chance

Support Dogs prides itself on being the charity that gives unwanted pets a second chance to become successful working dogs, transforming them into lifesavers.

Support Dogs received more than 4, 400 requests for its services in the past 12 months 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. Partnerships with rescue charities such as Dogs’ Trust and Blue Cross are increasingly important in order to meet rising demand.