Scott and Rosco's story
In 2003, a diving accident resulted in Scott, a strong, active man, having to face a very different future than the one he had imagined for himself. Now an incomplete quadriplegic, Scott’s life became one of hospital appointments and dependence on others. He applied for an Assistance Dog in 2005 and was lucky to receive Scotty, a chocolate Labrador who transformed his life for 11 loyal, tail-wagging years.
Scotty began his well-deserved retirement in early 2016, and was rehomed with a family in the same town as his former client. At Assistance Dogs Australia, our policy is to provide a replacement for the retiring dog, so we were delighted to identify a positive match for Scott, in the form of Rosco! Scott considers himself amazingly privileged to have been partnered with a second Assistance Dog.
The assessment process is very rigorous and many factors are taken into consideration. Not only do we assess the specialist skills of each dog against the needs of those on our waiting list, but also the personalities of both dog and applicant to ensure a happy and lasting bond.
What can we say about this wonderful dog? He is, quite simply, a superstar. When Better Homes and Gardens TV show featured a segment on our organisation, Dr Harry was bowled over by Rosco’s nature and intelligence, and immediately recognised that, thanks to his exceptional skills and temperament, he had the making of an extraordinary Physical Disability Assistance Dog.
Rosco seamlessly blended into Scott’s life from day one. He gets on well with all six of his carers — perhaps too well, as they all want to pat him. Scott laughs as he tells us that he is convinced super-friendly Rosco is enjoying secret pats from two carers as he keeps rolling over in front of them, identifying the culprits.
Man and dog: the partnership
Scott describes the transition from his first dog Scotty to Rosco as “like swapping a reliable tractor for a turbo-charged Ferrari.”
Their daily routine has already settled into a reassuring pattern. Every morning as Scott’s wife gets ready for work, Rosco bounds into the bedroom and makes a noise in his throat. “I’m sure he believes he’s my alarm clock,” laughs Scott. “Staying quiet doesn’t work. He then starts poking me with his big, wet nose which is what he does when you give the command ‘tip’ to move him towards your hand to better position him in a bus or taxi.”
Something many people don’t associate with being disabled and not working, is that it is often incredibly lonely once everybody has gone off to work. But, smiles Scott: “Rosco is a mate not a dog. It’s great to know you have a close friend that is the custodian of all your biggest secrets and they would never tell on you — ever!
Rosco goes everywhere with Scott; to medical appointments, rehab visits, shopping, seeing friends and family, to the radio station where he volunteers, even football! He compares the transformation in his life as changing from an existence of virtual solitude, to becoming a social butterfly. Travelling around with Rosco by his side, and doing normal things like catching public transport has meant Scott now finds himself having meaningful conversations with people in his community.
One of the most powerful things an Assistance Dog does is break down barriers. People approach Scott to ask about his dog —and of course, to shyly wangle a friendly doggy pat!
When asked about the most important thing Rosco has brought to his life, there isn’t a second’s hesitation. “He makes me visible. In a room, a lift, an aisle or a shop. It is demoralising how invisible you become when you’re disabled. But when you have an Assistance Dog, people will start a conversation with you about the dog quite readily. It takes longer to get where you’re going, but I don’t mind. I love spruiking Assistance Dogs Australia.”