MOST office workers don’t have a wet nose, four legs and a wagging tail. But Liggy the black Labrador even has a name badge at her desk.
The assistance dog helps Nicki Berry at home and at work, opening doors, picking up things and even loading the washing machine.
The 48-year-old office staffer’s world was turned upside-down in 2015 when a disc in her spine burst, causing paralysis and numbness in her left leg.
As a result, Nicki and her husband Neil, 50, who is her main carer, welcomed Liggy into their lives through the charity Canine Partners.
Liggy is constantly at Nicki’s side to help in any way she can, whether that is picking up something Nicki has dropped, carrying pieces around her office in a bag or simply boosting the team’s morale.
Nicki, who works in adult learning, told Paws And Claws: “On our desks we have name badges and I have a reserved desk because I have a special chair.
“The name we have on the desk is Nicki and Liggy. We come as a pair. She is just amazing.
“Whenever we book meeting rooms, we count her as a person because obviously she takes up space.
“So we need to make sure we have a big enough room to have her as well.”
Soon after her injury, Nicki realised she needed a canine partner that could deal with her work as well as home arrangements.
And after her first meeting with Liggy in her work environment, she couldn’t imagine life without the pup.
Nicki said: “They came to my workplace and brought Liggy to meet me in my territory. She was amazing.
“As soon as she heard my voice when they got out of the car, she leapt towards me. I think she’d already decided she was mine.”
Nicki works as an E-learning designer in her busy office, where Liggy is regarded as just another member of the team.
As well as her spinal injury, Nicki has a condition called an essential tremor — an uncontrollable tremble she has had since childhood.
She said: “The tremor makes me drop things and the condition in my spine makes it painful to pick things up. That combination is the main reason I applied to get Liggy. She has changed my life.”
The mum of two, from Goole, East Yorks, compares the dog to a “TV that is on standby”. Even when Liggy is resting in her office bed, she is ready to help in seconds.
Nicki said: “Sometimes she looks like she’s asleep. She looks like she’s totally switched off. But the second I drop something, she’s awake and she jumps up to help.”
Liggy has given Nicki the confidence to go to coffee shops on her lunch breaks.
She said: “The bond we have is huge and the relationship we have makes it possible for me to do things I couldn’t do before I had her. She’s given me independence.”
Star of the week
ALFIE has been dubbed a “wonderdoodle” after eating a sausage saved his life.
Two years ago Roisin Mary, 24, Holywood, County Down, noticed her nine-year-old labradoodle was just staring into space.
Alfie went downhill fast and he was found to be suffering from an inflammation in the brain. During his five-day stay a Cedarwood Vets in Bangor, he refused to eat anything.
Roisin says: “It got to the point where he was going to die. One day my mum went to the vets with a piece of sausage and he finally ate. The vets were so happy – it was a miracle.”
Alfie is now fighting-fit and as well as keeping a watchful eye on the family home by the front room window, he can’t help stealing cardboard toilet-roll tubes from the bathroom.
JEAN DUDLEY, of Plymouth, has a male husky Meeka, who welcomes guests to their home by persistently sniffing where he isn’t wanted.
Q) Why does my husky always want to smell people’s bottoms and what can I do to stop him?
He does it to my family from time to time, but even more when guests visit. It’s really embarrassing!
A) It’s pretty normal for dogs to sniff each other’s bottoms. Each dog has their own unique scent and it’s how they recognise each other. Think of it as doggy social media!
But it is not the most social of habits when they start sniffing your guests too. Usually dogs will continue a behaviour if it is rewarding to them in some way. Ask your guests to ignore when it happens. Don’t talk to him, don’t pet him, don’t make a song and dance about it.
You will need to redirect this behaviour into a more appropriate one, like a “sit and give paw” command with reward-based training. A dog trainer can also help.
Pauline Jones of Romford, Essex, has a nine-month-old Cavachon puppy, Milo, and is concerned about little lumps all along his belly.
Q) Milo’s lumps aren’t ticks, they’re fleshy and attached to his skin like warts. He isn’t neutered yet. I only noticed them last week. Should I get him checked at the vet?
A) I suspect this is going to be an embarrassing one, for you Pauline, not for Milo.
I have had this query before and it has turned out what you are describing are nipples! And before you think, “but he’s a boy dog”, as many people do, think about us humans. Men have them too.
If they are fleshy, well-attached and symmetrical, I am almost certain there is no problem here, just normal anatomy. If you are not convinced or the lumps are causing discomfort or changing size and shape, it is best for a vet to check in person.
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