We meet Desiree from Without a Ribbon, and her beautiful assistance dog, Coco Kaboo
Coco Kaboo, the Blue English Staffy, became part of Desiree’s life in 2014, and his training to become her assistance
dog began in 2015. Desiree described,‘‘He literally follows me everywhere… from the toilet, to shower, to teeth brushing – everything. If I leave the room, he leaves the room.’’
Desiree’s oesophagus has been damaged from an operation due to cancer, and consequently she can violently choke
for extended periods, even becoming unconscious from lack of oxygen. She explained, ‘‘What Kaboo is trained to do is to retrieve my phone when I touch the top of my head, then the phone will be activated to send my location to four nominated people, who will ring an ambulance for me.’’ If Desiree has an episode when in public, ‘‘he will bark until someone stops and helps me.’’
Training Kaboo was a process, like ‘‘training a two-year-old to get dressed.’’ For him to understand human, and for Desiree to understand Staffy, is a challenge, but there is delight when Kaboo gets it right, and equally so when Desiree gets it right!
It’s been a journey for this inseparable team, and it hasn’t always been easy. ‘‘Because I look normal, even though I’ve had half my upper jaw removed, I visually still look perfectly intact. Not all disabilities are visible,” noted Desiree. With Kaboo, Desiree said, ‘‘It means I get to live life independently.’’
Desiree said of life with Kaboo and interacting with the public, “I love that people love that my dog is there, and they’re happy to see him. At the end of the day though, I’m there for a reason – to go about my day. And he’s there to be on duty. It’s important to not stop him from doing his job. Just a smile and a nod is more than enough to reassure those with therapy dogs that it’s okay.’’
She also spoke of two important factors to consider before committing to an assistance dog: the attention that comes with it and the responsibility of owning an animal, remembering the impact your health will have on them too.