Excitement builds as countdown begins towards announcement of ‘Cork Person of the Year’

Excitement is building as twelve ‘Cork Person of the Month’ winners, including local lady Jennifer Dowler founder of Dogs for the Disabled, are in contention for the overall 2016 title, which will be announced at a Gala Awards Lunch on January 20th at the Rochestown Park Hotel. The awards lunch will be attended by more than 250 guests, including the 12 monthly nominees for 2016, with RTE radio broadcaster, Sean O’Rourke performing the role of MC on the day. Guest speakers will include Dee Forbes, Director-General of RTE, and Tom Crosbie, Irish Examiner and Landmark Media. “I’m proud to say that this is the 24th year these awards have been running and with so many worthy nominees this year, our judges, Tim Lucey, CEO, Cork County Council and Ann Doherty, CEO, Cork City Council, have a particularly difficult job on their hands,” according to the awards organiser, Manus O’Callaghan. Jennifer received her monthly award for her work as founder and CEO of Irish Dogs for the Disabled. The assistance dogs at this wonderful local charity really can be called the gift that keeps giving. The pups start their lives in The Dochas Centre at Mountjoy Prison, before leaving at approximately eight weeks to be homed in communities around Ireland, living with families who socialise them, before they move to Shelton Abbey at approximately 16 months to be trained by inmates as part of another unique initiative Dogs for the Disabled started, that of getting young prisoners at Shelton Abbey open prison to become dog walkers. This unique Charity, the only one of it’s kind in Europe, was the brainchild of Jennifer Dowler who has been providing dogs to children and adults with physical disabilities for over a decade now, after releasing she had a natural ability to work with dogs and people with life limiting disabilities. Jennifer, a mother of three young children, has put more than twenty years into perfecting this talent, and has transformed more than 100 lives in the process. As Jennifer said, “Disability can lead to isolation, loss of confidence and feelings of low self-esteem. Not only that but for many people living with a disability being unable to do even a simple task like picking up the post can leave them feeling depressed and dependent. Dogs for the Disabled trains dogs to assist with practical, everyday tasks to help a person with a disability to live life to the full, breaking down barriers to the outside world and helping to improve confidence and stress levels.” Over 80% of the charity’s clients are children, between the ages of 6 and 12 years, living with severe physical disabilities which effect their independence and social interaction.These Assistant Dogs are especially trained to assist the physically disabled to carry out a range of practical tasks in order to achieve greater independence. These everyday tasks include opening and closing doors, picking up dropped items, emptying the washing machine and helping a child with severe walking difficulties to walk with greater ease and balance. With 210 dogs nationwide and 120 currently out working, it costs the charity €15,000 to train and support each Assistance Dog. Dogs for the Disabled receive no government funding, relying completely on the generosity of sponsorship, donations and fundraising, and the dogs are partnered with disabled people at no cost to the recipient. Each Assistance Dog is trained to help his or her new partner but is also reliant on them to provide for their needs including exercise, feeding, love and care. As a result, encourages the them to become more active and outgoing in their community by taking their assistance dog for walks and engaging with the public at large. Thus increases confidence, encourages them to take up new activities e.g. returning to work or further education. The charities partnerships have found the experience for getting an assistance dog life changing. “Seeing children and adults lives transformed because they can now walk unaided or go out on their own for the first time is very rewarding”, said Jennifer. “The award was a great boost for all our partnerships,”Jennifer said, “As it recognised the importance of their disability and that they too deserve to live fulfilling lives. It was also a great boost for the charity as we are currently looking for a site on which to build a headquarters so we can move out of our temporary rented base in Abbeyville, Togher, which we are very grateful for but is not suitable for us to train our partnerships in. Dogs for the Disabled is always looking for puppy socialisers, volunteers and fund-raising opportunities as they receive no government funding. If you would like to find out more, or feel you can help change lives, please contact them on 021 431 6627 / info@dogsfordisabled.ie You can find more information about Dogs for the Disabled at dogsfordisabled.ie15723775_10154928469182094_7732158209329386668_o

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