Here’s Orca, with his owner, Cheryl Alexander.
Cheryl suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy syndrome.
According to Cheryl, “There are parts of my legs that no longer have any sensation, and parts that are confused. I cannot tell the difference between hot and cold for example. My bones break easily. I can still walk, indoors, with crutches, short distances. But I am more disabled walking than in a chair…But my life is my life, and I rather like it, all things considered. The one thing that broke my heart at the time was that it cost me my dream of joining the Royal Navy. Having said that, I would have had a very different life than the one I have now. And I would have never met Orca.”
Orca, a male golden retriever, was given to Cheryl in 2003. He’d been hers for six weeks when the most extraordinary thing happened.
“So we were walking, far from home. It was a fairly wet day, and quite cold. I was on the section that runs past a deep ditch. It never worried me, as I made this journey daily. But I hit something, a rock I believe, and it turned the wheels of the chair into the ditch, and before I knew it, I was at the bottom. Orca immediately started to bark, and was trying to edge down the bank to get to me. He knew this was not right. He did not want to go, but with encouragement, he left. Understand that he is trained to do this in a situation that is staged in a training environment, and the person he asks for help always responds.”
It wasn’t the only example of Orca being obstinate.
Cheryl tells us Orca was an “expert” when it came to understanding her emotions. She says he “would chase his tail or bring me toys” when she was sad, would get “excited” if she was, and would become “protective” if she was scared. (source: Buzzfeed)
When Cheryl became a mother, Orca reacted extremely well.
“When Lily arrived Orca came to visit in the hospital when she was only a couple of hours old. He was initially curious, but then fairly indifferent. He was not over keen on the crying. Being a new mother, the crying would make me slightly anxious, so it affected him. Bringing her home, in a cold winter, Orca and I would go for walks with Lily inside my jacket. He liked walks, and quickly, putting on a baby carrier meant walkies for him.” (source: Buzzfeed)
Orca died on November 5, 2014. Cheryl says:
“I have applied for another dog, but there will never be another Orca. But I can love another dog. I can cope without an assistance dog but I don’t want to. It’s so much better to share my life with a friend as good as Orca was.” (source: Buzzfeed)