Sunday, March 23, 2008
Faithful dog does the laundry, tidies up and brings shopping home
Hazel Carter's home help tidies the house, does the washing and brings home the shopping.
And the only payment she requires is a nice big bowl of dog food at dinner time.
No wonder Connie the Newfoundland is her owner's best friend.
Helpful hound: Connie empties the washing, gets to grips with a watering can ...
When Mrs Carter was struck down with crippling arthritis in her back, she found herself unable to perform simple household tasks.
... and even carries Hazel Carter's shopping bag
But she used her skills as an animal behaviourist to teach Connie how to do the work instead.
The two-year-old animal picks out items of dirty clothing from the laundry basket and places them inside the washing machine.
Once it is full, she places a detergent ball on top of the clothes before reaching up and turning on the machine with her paw. When the washing cycle is over, Connie squeezes her head through the door of the frame and transfers the clean clothes to the tumble dryer.
Mrs Carter, 68, could leave the dog to complete the entire task unsupervised - if only Connie understood that dark colours must not be washed with whites.
"My arthritis is slowly improving these days," said Mrs Carter, from Uckfield, East Sussex. "But there was a point where I was almost bedridden and every movement was painful - so to have Connie there to pick things up and pass them to me was a lifesaver."
When Mrs Carter is short of essentials, she phones up the local shop with her requirements and sends Connie along to pick them up.
And the dog's tidying skills rival that of a professional cleaner. When Mrs Carter leaves anything lying around the house, Connie knows exactly where it came from and return it to its rightful home.
"She really loves helping out,' she said. 'Her tail is always wagging and she just does some of the jobs automatically now.
"She fetches her own dog bowl at dinner time, making sure to put it back afterwards. She picks up items like pens and knives that I drop on the floor.
"Connie can do a lot - she can even unties my shoelaces for me if I ask her. She is a brilliant help around the home - and really enjoys it too. She is a big dog - but she is so gentle.
"At one stage all I could do was lie in bed and Connie would bring me a toy from her toy box for me to throw from my prostrate position. She quickly learnt that to have a game she must first bring her toy to me, a very valuable lesson.
"My idea was to keep her occupied and mentally stimulated while helping me at the same time."
Mrs Carter teaches Connie by giving her treats for tasks that are performed well and is keen to encourage other dog owners to train their pets to help out.
She recently spoke at a conference on animal behaviour and Connie has been successful at three obedience contests.
"I like to try to inspire people who are traumatised with injury that they too can do this," added Mrs Carter. "Even just a little bit of help goes a long way." http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=505744&in_page_id=1770