A former West Herts College student has found happiness and independence with a new canine friend.
Paul Phillips, 25, is paralysed from the neck down following a car crash in November 2012 that left him with a severe spinal-cord injury.
He found his dream job fitting kitchens before the injury and now hopes to become a counsellor.
Paul met Ralph through Canine Partners, an organisation that matches dogs with people who have disabilities.
He said: “At first I thought I was too disabled to have a dog. As soon as Ralph saw me there was an instant connection.”
Paul completed a training course and practises activities with Ralph everyday.
He said: “He presses an alarm that calls the carer if I need help. He takes my jacket and my gloves off in the winter and he helps remove my blankets if I get too hot at night. He also opens and closes doors for me.
“He’s also been practising pressing the buttons at traffic lights. Having Ralph by my side has not only made me more independent, he has made me a lot healthier.
“I am no longer anxious or in and out of hospital constantly. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air I’m getting or the fact I now have a purpose in life and someone else to worry about.”
Paul will soon be moving into his own specially-adapted flat with Ralph.