Nesta the dog is woman's best friend for Whittlesey mum Jill who suffers ME, fibromyalgia and CFS

PUBLISHED: 15:25 30 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:25 30 November 2015

Jill  Dowding-Walker and Nesta her canine partner, in Whittlesey

Jill Dowding-Walker and Nesta her canine partner, in Whittlesey


A woman who suffers with three debilitating health conditions has spoken about getting her life back thanks to a charity dedicated to improving people's lives through specially trained dogs.

Jill  Dowding-Walker and Nesta her canine partner, in WhittleseyJill Dowding-Walker and Nesta her canine partner, in Whittlesey

Jill Dowding Walker, 56, of Whittlesey, suffers from ME, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia and said her canine partner Nesta helps her get dressed, takes out washing and raises an alarm if she falls.

“The tasks she does means I don’t need to bend or stretch for objects as she will get me anything I need preventing additional pain, and minimising fatigue,” she said.

“She will gladly retrieve my walking stick, my mobile, my house phone, the post, the washing out of the machine or bathroom towels.

“She helps me to undress by tugging off outdoors clothing when we come home and gets me ready for bed by helping take off my remaining clothes, thus enabling me to go to bed when I want to, rather than having to wait for somebody to assist me.

“She helps by pressing the alarm button so that if I have a fall, assistance can be summoned immediately.

“Nesta has become my reason to get up and my reason to go to bed at a reasonable time,” she said.

Mrs Dowding Walker used to be a busy business woman, supervising and managing staff.

She was fit and active and had many hobbies but she said: “Increasingly in my forties, my health deteriorated. I kept getting contagious illnesses or infections and became tired all the time.

“I was unable to continue with my career, due to constant exhaustion and body-wide, excruciating, shooting pains.

“At home I dropped items frequently. It was painful, tiring and frustrating.

“Then I began to fall over. Suddenly, without warning, my legs gave way.”

She received the triple condition diagnosis in 2008 and moved into a bungalow, acquired wheelchairs, walking sticks and a motability vehicle.

“At 50 years old I was obtaining a new identity – a disabled person.

“I suffered a profound grief and withdrew from life. Depression took hold.”

She felt isolated and lonely, her confidence shaken, until one day she read a disability magazine with a story about Canine Partners and in 2012 was introduced to Nesta who changed her life.

“I am much happier now she is by my side,” she said.

To find out more visit Canine Partners website.

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