Video: Meet Norman, the amazing domestic dog who changed his owner’s life

IPSWICH: Meet Norman – a doggy with a difference.

He may look like any other handsome chocolate Labrador but this pooch is so much more.

Because Norman can do his owner’s washing, pick up his post and pay for the shopping.

Every day the two-and-a-half-year-old carries out these and other vital tasks for his disabled master Gerry Gardiner.

And he has transformed Mr Gardiner’s life in just eight months, boosting his confidence and enabling him to live a more independent life once again.

Norman, who was trained by the charity Canine Partners, stays by his owner’s side at all times, ready to call for help should anything happen to the 44-year-old.

“He pays for my shopping, passing my wallet to the cashier, waiting for the change,” said Mr Gardiner, of London Road.

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“He picks things up for me when I drop bits, he calls for lifts, can turn on lights, opens and closes the bathroom door and he can help undress me.

“At the moment he is learning to post letters for me and use cashpoints.

“If I get into trouble, fall out of my chair and am unable to call for help, Norman will find someone to help.”

Mr Gardiner, who used to recruit medical staff for the Ministry of Defence, suffered a spinal injury in 1992, leaving him paralysed and in a wheelchair.

“Although I was in a wheelchair, I led an active life,” he said. “It didn’t stop me doing anything.”

But in July 2008 Mr Gardiner suffered a major setback.

A condition called conversion syndrome caused him to suffer stroke-like symptoms.

He was in hospital until August 2009 and lost the use of his left arm meaning he now has to rely on an electric wheelchair.

When he was at his lowest point in hospital with little to look forward to, Mr Gardiner never dreamed of getting out and about on his own.

“Norman has helped me get my confidence back, he has brought me back to life.

“Since having him the old Gerry has come back,” he added. “My life was a bit of a mess, Norman has made everything a lot clearer for me.

“I wouldn’t be without him, I don’t know what I would do.”

Mr Gardiner is now looking forward to marrying his fiance Lisa Drury in January, on her 40th birthday, with Norman at his side.

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n Opinion – page 6