Alison Jenkins, a Cambrian Pet Foods Supply Chain Administrator, will plunge from a plane on Saturday July 1 for a good cause.
Jenkins, a Llangadog, Wales, native, will raise money for Guide Dogs Cymru, which trains service dogs to aid people with mobility issues. Louise, Alison’s mother, who is legally blind, has benefitted from the organization’s help. Viewers of ITV’s This Morning recently named Louise, who is guided by Trinity, an affectionate yellow lab, the UK’s “Inspirational Guide Dog Owner of the Year.”
“Over 13 years ago, my Mum lost her eye sight suddenly and it affected the whole family. I was only 14 at the time and my sister was 16. We learned to adapt and had to grow up quickly,” said Alison. “After having been on the waiting list for three years, we finally received the news that Opal, a guide dog, would be joining our family. She changed my Mum’s life and the bond they had was inseparable.”
Unfortunately, six years later, Opal fell ill and had to be put to sleep.
Guide Dogs Cymru was able to match Louise with another dog, Quinta. “Only 8 months later, though, they were involved in a bus crash and Quinta would no longer go on buses and Guide Dogs decided to stop her from working as she had lost her confidence in looking after mum,” said Alison. The organization came through again and matched Louise with Trinity. “It costs approximately £32,000 to train a dog. This covers the first two years – from birth to graduation. After then, it costs £12,800 to support the working partnership,” said Alison.
The high cost of training dogs to offer life-changing aid inspired Alison to act.
“I have seen how much it can change a person’s life, and you can’t put a price on happiness and independence. My Mum has done so much for me and I cannot thank her enough, so now it’s my time to show what she means to me through a great charity,” said Alison. Alison’s skydive has already raised £415.00. Her target was £300. “We felt like we would rather stay at home and look after Mum than go out with friends. She became isolated and had pretty much given up on life until she got Opal,” said Alison. “Suddenly she was a different woman, and wanted to get out into the world.”
“The bond was incredible, and she didn’t feel alone anymore. In fact, I was trying to keep up with her!”
Guide dog breeds are selected based on temperament and trainability. Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Labradors are the most chosen breeds. Golden Retriever/Labrador cross breeds, which benefit from the sensitivity of the Golden Retriever and the tolerance of the Labrador Retriever are also popular. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids any business, organization or government agency that serves the general public from barring service dogs. In addition, the Fair Housing Act obliges that landlords accept tenants with service animals.