Labrador Ola helps ‘rebuild confidence’ for Felpham woman

Nicola Gibbs and Ola
Nicola Gibbs and Ola

A Felpham woman has been speaking out about living with multiple sclerosis and how her trained Labrador has helped her reclaim her life.

Nicola Gibbs, 49, first started experiencing symptoms of MS after giving birth to her daughter Tasha in 1992. Nicola woke up after an emergency caesarean section to find that she was unable to use her hands. Within a few weeks, she could hardly keep her balance or walk. Over the next six months, Nicola says she received a multitude of tests that revealed she had primary progressive MS.

She said: “I was terrified. My husband and I knew nothing about MS, and we had a new-born baby which I could barely hold. MS is extremely unpredictable, and we had to pick ourselves up and carry on. But over the years, I got worse.”

Nicola is now wheelchair-bound with quite severe upper limb and hand weakness. In 2014, she Canine Partners for an assistance dog. After her needs and abilities were assessed, she was paired with canine partner Ola, a beautiful yellow Labrador.

Nicola said: “She’s trained unbelievably well, but Ola’s support isn’t just limited to helping me with day-to day activities”, she adds, “She is helping me rebuild my confidence.”

Canine Partners, a Midhurst based charity, hosted an information session at MS Life, the biggest MS lifestyle event in Europe, last week.

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