BEHIND every superhero is a force to be reckoned with – their mum. This Mother’s Day, Support Dogs is celebrating the extra-special ones who gave life to the charity’s life-changing dogs. Lots of the Sheffield-based cause’s awe-inspiring assistance dogs – who are trained to help autistic children or people with epilepsy or a physical disability - are donated by breeders. One such reputable breeder is Lincolnshire-based Aglabs.

Led by Lissy and Jonny Birnie-Hawkins, Aglabs has gifted around 20 puppies to Support Dogs over the past four years. Many of these have gone on to support children and adults to live more safely and independently, becoming lifelines to both clients and their wider families.

Super-mum Kova, a white Lab, was brought over from America and is part show and part working dog. She is the mother of Support Dogs-in-training Meadow, Skye and Josie, who share their mum’s strikingly beautiful looks. Meadow will leave the charity’s puppy programme in the summer and start ‘big school’, Skye has just began full-time training and Josie has gone out to an autism assistance client in Bolton.

“We brought Kova over to have different blood lines and improve the lines we have,” said Lissy. “She has had a really successful litter, with three pups training under Support Dogs and another puppy going to Darwin Dogs. She’s been an amazing mum.”

Abi is mum to Penny, who is the longest-serving support dog bred by Aglabs, who successfully graduated as a Support Dogs partnership with client Wendy Martin last year. Wendy, from Birmingham, has limited mobility due to disc degeneration in the base of her spine and neck, as well as osteoarthritis and the pain syndrome fibromyalgia. Fox red Labrador Penny helps Wendy with a range of tasks, including loading and unloading the washing machine, picking things up for her, helping her to get dressed and undressed and lays on her to help put pressure on Wendy’s legs.

Explaining why they chose to become involved with such a worthy cause, Lissy, whose son Jack, six, has a cochlear implant, explained: “We have a son who is deaf, so I’m aware of the difference dogs can make to children, and adults as well. Being around dogs has really brought Jack out of his shell.”

Lissy, who is also mum to three-year-old Harry, added that they look to breed “a really nice laid-back puppy that wants to interact with humans”, combined with “the trainability from the working side of the breed, and also the calmness”.

Before going to Support Dogs, pups are with Aglabs, a Kennel Club and Kesteven District Council-assured breeder, until they’re around eight weeks old. They begin being weaned from their mum at six weeks old and are introduced to different people and children, toys, travelling in the car, and they meet other adult dogs at Aglabs. They have vet checks at seven weeks old and a week later are collected by Support Dogs staff or volunteers.

Describing the handover to the charity, Lissy says: “It’s a really proud moment. It’s obviously always hard saying goodbye to puppies, but it’s really nice seeing they are off to do such an important job, and the team keeps us updated, while doggy foster carers and clients post updates online – it’s a really nice community.”

Lissy recommends other responsible breeders to consider working with Support Dogs: “It’s definitely rewarding – it’s just nice to see your dog going out there and doing their job.” Any other reputable breeders wanting to find out more about Support Dogs can visit or call 0114 2617800.