National Dog Warden Association (NDWA)
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Two friends and their assistance dog in Olympic torch relay

Fri, 18 May 2012

For immediate release

Thursday 3rd May 2012

Two friends will be taking part in the Olympic torch relay this summer, both accompanied by their assistance dogs. Wendy Morrell and Karen Ruddlesden are delighted to be passing on the Olympic flame, and their dogs Udo and Coco will be right by their sides.

The big day for Karen and Wendy is 13th July, in Poole, Dorset, and the symbolic passing on of the flame has many resonances for both women. It is mirrored in the way the lives of the friends&rsquo dogs have intertwined. Wendy&rsquos previous dog, Caesar, trained by Dogs for the Disabled, assisted her with mobility problems, and warned her of impending epileptic seizures. However, it was a hugely significant development when Caesar started to alert when Karen&rsquos Addison&rsquos Disease was about to send her into crisis. Unlike other conditions like diabetes, there is no easy at home way for Karen to check her cortisol, so the possibility of a dog who could detect a problem before it became a crisis held immense hope. Medical Detection Dogs trained an assistance dog, Coco, to accompany Karen at all times.

Wendy says, &ldquoCaesar started alerting to Karen so he kind of created the job that Coco then got and then mentored Coco.&rdquo

Karen fondly remembers, &ldquoThe first time we went to London on the underground, Coco watched Caesar, how he coped with it and he noticed that Caesar just lay there and Coco watched, and learned so much from him.&rdquo

When Caesar developed health problems, Coco donated a litre of blood, but sadly Caesar passed away. In time, Wendy&rsquos current dog Udo arrived, and it was Coco&rsquos turn to play mentor and help the new boy settle in. Thus their beloved dogs have shared and passed to each other the torch of caring for Wendy and Karen.

Taking part in the torch relay has vast significance for both women. For Wendy, the key word is affirmation, &ldquoThe couple of years before I got Udo were really quite bad news - losing my Dad, and losing Caesar, and last year having all this surgery on my arm, so in many respects being offered a place in the torch relay is affirming that life does go on there&rsquos still exciting things to happen even though you think the worst has happened.&rdquo

Karen is nervous but thrilled to be taking part in the relay, &ldquoIt&rsquos an absolute honour and a privilege to be able to do this but I&rsquom also excited for the charity as well.&rdquo

Wendy nominated Karen in recognition of her work for the charity who supplied the dog that has changed her life. In turn, Karen nominated Wendy for her extensive work as an advocate for assistance dog access, advising the Disabled Persons&rsquo Transport Advisory Committee at the Department for Transport and the Metropolitan Police.

Both women have advised LOCOG on accommodating assistance dogs visiting the games, and a highlight for them will be attending the 10 meter diving final.



For further information or to interview Wendy or Karen please contact Julie Hill on 02081230279 or


Dogs for the Disabled is a life-transforming charity, creating exceptional partnerships between people living with disability and specially trained assistance dogs.

Through practical assistance a dog can offer freedom and independence to children and adults with physical disabilities and children with autism.

Medical Detection Dogs is a charity that trains dogs to help people with life threatening health conditions, giving them greater independence and above all saving their lives on a daily basis.

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