NATALIE Hibberd was almost 22 when she was first able to get undressed without another person in the room.

That’s because Natalie, who has cerebral palsy, now had the help of Cleo, her disability assistance dog. The Labradoodle had been trained by national charity, Support Dogs - with life-changing results for Natalie, who is wheelchair-bound.

“She helps me put on my clothes,” said Natalie. “That was big for us. For me it was emotional, for Cleo, it was ‘this is fun, we do clothes’. I was crying.”

It’s just one way in which Cleo has transformed Natalie’s life.

“Her favourite job is to pick things up for me when I drop them - which happens a lot,” added the 24-year-old, who won a special recognition award for promoting Support Dogs during lockdown. She can do that with something as small as 5p.” Cleo also opens doors for novellist Natalie, and will run and get help if she falls over.

Before Cleo, Natalie felt isolated, as she didn’t like going out in her wheelchair, due to “hostile” people.

“I was very depressed and anxious,” said Natalie, who lives with her parents, Carol and Mark in Petersfield, Hampshire.

Cleo came to Natalie from the Doodle Trust rescue dog charity, as a pet, six years ago. Six months later, Natalie saw a Support Dogs flyer and the pair set about getting trained. A year later, they were qualified. Asked whether she could imagine life without Cleo, Natalie said: “I can imagine it, but I don’t like to, because it’s very, very unhappy.

“I’m a different person now - I’ve become more confident. If it wasn’t for Cleo, I wouldn’t do half the things I do now.”

Natalie and Cleo plan to eventually live on their own - another feat Natalie wouldn’t have dreamed of without Support Dog