Wakefield vicar and her ex-paramedic husband support dog-in-training Ruby

This cute little puppy being looked after by a Wakefield vicar and her ex-paramedic husband is not your average pooch – one day, she will be someone’s lifeline.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Six-month-old Ruby the Red Fox Labrador is in the very early stages of being trained by the national Support Dogs charity.

The cause provides and trains dogs to help autistic children, and adults with epilepsy or a physical disability to live safer, more independent lives.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Steve and Kim Williams, from Wakefield, are volunteer puppy socialisers with the charity and have been looking after Ruby since she was 11 weeks old.

Ruby is not your average pooch – one day, she will be someone’s lifeline.Ruby is not your average pooch – one day, she will be someone’s lifeline.
Ruby is not your average pooch – one day, she will be someone’s lifeline.

Steve, 70 and Kim, 61, heard about Support Dogs after puppy socialisers gave a talk to a local Trefoil Guild at the church where Mel is a vicar and Steve is a caretaker.

Kim said: “I think the main over-riding reason we wanted to get involved was the end result – the autism, the epilepsy, the disability; that a dog can be part of that process, part of that journey.

“Having had dogs and having thought about getting another dog, this was a really good chance at having a dog again, but for a different reason – not as a pet but for her to go on and change someone’s life.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The couple, who have five sons and 12 grandchildren, found out more and registered their interest in becoming puppy socialisers.

Steve and Ruby.Steve and Ruby.
Steve and Ruby.

After providing holiday cover for a Support Dog for two nights, they received a call to let them know Ruby was available.

They fell in love with her the moment they met.

Having now had Ruby for almost three months, Kim describes her as “lively, very friendly and very quick to learn”.

Puppy socialisers attend Support Dogs’ centre in Sheffield once a week for 12 weeks and also do practical training in public settings.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Support Dogs puppy co-ordinators also visit socialisers’ homes fortnightly.

It costs nothing to be a puppy socialiser – Support Dogs supplies dog crates, leads, toys and food and covers costs such as vet’s bills and insurance.

Support is also available 24/7 and there is a community of fellow puppy socialisers ready to help.

Holiday cover is also provided by other volunteers.

Steve said the couple were benefitting by getting out for dog walks, while also watching Ruby grow and progress.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We put the Support Dogs bandana on her and go into shops and people are interested. We tell them she’s training,” he said.

Kim added: “The biggest question we get from people is ‘how will you give her up?’

“We have come into this knowing this is not our pet.

“I will be sad, I will miss her, but I know we will always be kept informed of her progress, and we have to go back to the reason we have got her in the first place – that is the end result, so we hold on to that. We are a small cog in a wheel.”

The couple are hosting a coffee morning in aid of Support Dogs, from 10am on Saturday, November 4 at West Wakefield Methodist Church, on Thornes Road and there will be toy, bric-a-brac and cake stalls, as well as an appearance from Support Dog TJ.

To find out more, please visit www.supportdogs.org.uk

Related topics: