Wes and his faithful companion Ellie are living proof that a dog really is man’s best friend.
Wes Blundell, 22, who has Down’s syndrome and autism, is enjoying fresh air and long walks for the first time in years thanks to his new four-legged friend, courtesy of a kind-hearted dog trainer.
Wes’ mum Jayne Innis, 47, forked out more than £1,000 for a specially trained canine companion for her son last year. But tragedy struck just five months later when Basco the German Shepherd had to be put down after suffering a severe case of hip displacia, which causes lameness and agonising arthritis in dogs.
After appealing for help online, the family’s guardian angel came in the form of dog trainer Louise Eaton, from the National Dog Training Centre in Widnes.
She suggested introducing Wes to one of her own trained dogs – seven-year-old German Shepherd Ellie.
Jayne, who lives with Wes on Shaftesbury Avenue in Staining, said: “After what happened with Basco I was worried but I decided to give it a go. Wes immediately fell in love with her. She’s brilliant with him.
“They took to each other straight away and went out playing in the garden.
“Wes doesn’t like to leave the house. He’ll go to day-care but trying to get him to even to even go to the shops is impossible. But with Ellie he’ll go out and walk around the golf course.
“It’s been years since he has been around there, and as soon as Ellie appeared that was it, he was off. It gives him a sense of responsibility.”
After a number of visits spanning several weeks, it became clear that Wes and Ellie were meant to be, and the furry friend became a permanent member of the family.
Jayne said: “Wes wouldn’t have taken Ellie off Louise because to him that would have been like he was taking her dog – it would have upset him.
“So we brought her up in secret while he was at day-care, so she was laying there on the carpet waiting for him when he got back. He just sat down next to her and watched her all night.”
Louise said: “When I heard Wes’ story it broke my heart.
“I do a lot of work with people with special needs at the training centre so I know what a dog companion means to them.
“We had to introduce them slowly because Wes doesn’t like change, and that gave me the chance to house-check. I know Ellie is going to be well looked-after.
“Growing up people have done a lot for me and sometimes you’ve just got to give something back. When I see Wes and Ellie together I can see in his eyes how much he loves her.
“That’s all I need.”