New pup will replace loyal Jake

He has been a faithful companion for years, helping his owner by performing the most miraculous of tasks.

IPSWICH: He has been a faithful companion for years, helping his owner by performing the most miraculous of tasks.

But today, Jake the German Sheppard is on his last legs.

The eight-and-a-half-year-old has been an assistance dog at the side of wheelchair-bound Claire O'Brien-Ellington since 2002 but has been ill for several months now.

He was once able to pick items from shop shelves and even help his owner use a cash machine.

But now, suffering from a degenerative disease caused by his pedigree breeding, he is barely able to walk, with Mrs O'Brien-Ellington admitting he hasn't long to live.

“Everybody knows Jake,” she said. “He's done an excellent job over the years - he's been an absolute trooper.

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“But he is very, very unwell and can't use his back legs at all. It's scary seeing him the way he is, seeing him in pain. It hurts me.

“About six months ago he started showing. We thought we had done something wrong but we found out when we took him to the vets that he had CDRM (Chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy).”

Now Mrs O'Brien-Ellington, who lives at Blackfriars Court in Foundation Street, Ipswich, is preparing to say “goodbye” to Jake and “hello” to a new puppy.

She said: “With Jake it's a matter of time now. That's when we will be getting a new puppy. People try so hard to get pedigrees and as a result, they can end up with these diseases.

“That's why we looked for a German Sheppard-cross, rather than a pedigree. It hurts like hell to see what people have done to these dogs to make them pedigree - it's just too cruel.”

Her new puppy, Chester, is currently undergoing assistance dog training and Mrs O'Brien-Ellington said he would soon be able to pick up the everyday skills that Jake perfected.

She said: “He is now in full time training and it shouldn't take too long. He will be qualified even quicker than Jake was.”

Jake will not only be missed by Mrs O'Brien-Ellington and husband Simon, who together run the Ipswich Charioteers Wheelchair Football Club, but by many of their neighbours, friends and people they see around town regularly.

Mrs O'Brien-Ellington, who has a spinal degeneration disorder, added: “He amazes everybody. Everybody knows him and it's like they're his friends. He has got so many 'girlfriends' around the town.”

Have you got an amazing pet? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

Amazing dogs:

The world's oldest dog is believed to be Chanel, who celebrated her 21st birthday in May. The dachshund is a rescue dog from Port Jefferson in New York.

A Blue Great Dane called George that stands at nearly 43 inches tall and weighs a staggering 245 pounds is thought to be the tallest dog in the world. George, who looks more like a miniature horse than a dog, measures almost the same, at 7ft 3ins from nose to tail.

Scooter, a Maltese pup, could well be the planet's smallest dog - she can sit quite comfortably in a tea cup.