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Full report: Give the dog a phone

A black labrador who can answer the phone and empty the washing machine has changed the life of a Cumbrian woman with multiple sclerosis.

Grainne O'Connor from Kirkby Stephen was diagnosed with the condition in 2001 and finds it increasingly difficult to pick things up and carry out every day tasks.

She says the disability assistance dog Tori is far more than just her best friend.

Kim Inglis has been to meet them:

"My experience as a disabled person has altered"

Tori the black labrador support dog Credit: ITV News Border

Mrs O'Connor's dog Tori was trained by Support Dogs, which is the only organisation in the UK to also train seizure alert dogs, giving people with epilepsy up to 40 minutes warning of an oncoming seizure.

The pair were then enrolled into a 12 month training programme before becoming a fully qualified partnership.

Tori with a pair of Grainne's socks Credit: ITV News Border

Mrs O'Connor says that having Tori helps change the way she is treated in public:

"Since I got her it is really interesting how my experience as a disabled person in society has altered.

"Normally outdoors I use a mobility scooter and previously I have occasionally found that people, while helpful, can also appear awkward, uncomfortable or embarrassed around me because of my disability.

"With Tori the whole experience seems to be reframed into a positive, happy encounter. She makes people smile, they are keen to chat about their own dogs or what Tori does for me - not about the bag I've just dropped."

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Dog makes "incredible" difference to MS sufferer

Grainne and her dog Tori Credit: Grainne O'Connor

A 45-year-old Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferer from Cumbria says that the help she receives from her support dog has changed her life.

Grainne O'Connor, from Kirkby Stephen, was diagnosed with the incurable neurological condition in 2012 and now has very little feeling left in her hands.

Last year Mrs O'Connor was put in touch with "Support Dogs", a national charity who train dogs to help sufferers of various diseases, including epilepsy and MS.

Tori, a black labrador, was given special training to help assist Grainne with a number of everyday tasks, including opening doors, using the tv remote and emptying the washing machine.

Mrs O'Connor said:

"She is trained to pick up anything I ask her to and bring it to me.

"It doesn't matter how many times I drop things she gets it and brings it to me with a waggy tail, looking very pleased with how clever she is."

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