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Ola the labrador helps give Crayford MS sufferer her life back

PUBLISHED: 16:02 26 November 2015 | UPDATED: 16:08 27 November 2015

Nicola Gibbs and Ola

Nicola Gibbs and Ola

Archant

Nicola Gibbs, 48, brought home the dog in July 2014 as part of the Canine Partners scheme

A Multiple Sclerosis sufferer from Crayford has praised the role of her labrador, Ola, for giving her back her life.

Nicola Gibbs, 48, first suffered from the condition after giving birth to her daughter in 1992, when she became unable to use her hands or walk properly but a diagnosis took six months, following a number of tests.

“We knew nothing about it, had a new baby I could hardly hold, I couldn’t go back to work, I was scared,” she said.

“My husband, who is a firefighter in London, managed to transfer employment to a station near home which helps immensely. We had to pick ourselves up and carry on.”

After admitting she found it difficult to leave the house, often meaning cancelling plans with friends, the Canine Partners scheme was then suggested to the wheelchair-bound Mrs Gibbs, which assists disabled people to enjoy greater independence and a better quality of life through the help of specially trained dogs.

Ola, who was brought home in July 2014, is able to bring Mrs Gibbs named items, the telephone when it rings and opens and closes drawers and doors.

She also pushes buttons at zebra crossings, hands money to cashiers, takes items from shelves in supermarkets and helps her owner undress for bed.

Mrs Gibbs said: “Ola loves to work and learn new things, it’s all a game.

“She is trained to such a high standard I can be home alone or go out without my husband having to leave employment to be with me.

“Ola is by my side all the time, a brilliant companion and friend. Slowly my confidence is building both at home and out and about.

“She has, almost, given me back my arms, legs and a life.”

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