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Support Dogs: Raife’s Story

assistance dog

Support Dogs is a UK based charity who train and provide specialist assistance dogs to those with autism, epilepsy, or physical disabilities. Since 1992, Support Dogs have helped both people and dogs! 1 in 4 of their assistance dogs were unwanted or rescued dogs! Below is Raife’s Story!

Check out Support Dogs on their website and Facebook!

Raife: Support Dog of the Month!

Raife the clever fox-red Labrador already has a raft of domestic skills that make him the perfect canine companion. The two-year-old Lab has learnt how to load and unload the washing machine, open doors and pick up dropped items.

Raife was being trained by Sheffield-based charity Support Dogs as a disability assistance dog to provide vital practical support inside and outside the home for a client with a disability or medical condition. But because of the dog’s lively personality and high energy levels, the training team at Support Dogs decided to switch Raife to its autism assistance programme.

Now Raife is being taught all the skills he will need to spend his working life helping a child with autism to be safe, secure, and independent. Although assistance dogs need to have different characteristics for each training programme – autism, epilepsy seizure alert and disability – they all need to be confident and adaptable, dog-friendly, people-orientated with no major fears or phobias.

Raife arrived at the Brightside-based charity as one of a litter of four and spent most of his puppyhood being looked after by a local volunteer puppy socialiser. Support Dogs is committed to high standards of dog welfare, with trainee dogs never spending a night in kennels, but instead living with local foster carers.

Raife is now with a foster carer family in Sheffield with a child, to help him get used to living in a household with children. “The original plan for him was to be a disability assistance dog but we felt because Raife is so active the autism programme would be more suitable,” says Support Dogs trainer Jemima McLanaghan.

support dog
Raife, support dog of the month!

“Autism assistance dogs have to be quite confident and have to be quite adaptable. When Raife first came into training he was quite under-confident, but he has progressed so much and now is very confident. I’ve started taking him to play areas where there are lots of children and he’s been great. “He is very lively, always wagging his tail and his entire bum! He has all the energy in the world. “

Having learnt all the domestic duties expected of a disability assistance dog, Raife is now learning lots of new tasks that will help him transform the life of a child with autism – such as how to ‘brace’ when a child, attached to him by a harness, tries to run off, and prevent them getting into danger.

Autism assistance dogs are trained to keep a child safe using a wide range of methods, reducing the risk of injury or distress for the child and reducing stress and anxiety for the child’s family. “He’s sailing through his training, he just needs to relax and chill out a bit now!” adds Jemima.

“He will be introduced to the child he will be working with in September and will start training with the child and parents at their home in January. We expect great things of Raife!”

Support Dogs is a national charity based in Brightside, Sheffield. They train assistance dogs for children with autism and adults with epilepsy and physical disabilities. The dogs enable people to lead safer, more independent lives.

• Do you have a much-loved pet dog under the age of three that you can no longer look after who you would like to donate to Support Dogs to give it a second chance in life? If so, please get in touch via
• For more information about Support Dogs go to

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10 Best Natural Dog Treats by Small UK Businesses

natural dog treats uk

It’s important to source natural, healthy treats for your dog. So why not buy local? Take a look at these natural dog treats by small UK businesses in no particular order.

Nellys Deli: Leeds, England

Natural Dog Treat Box  Great selection of 18 treats  Variety image 0

A selection box filled with 18, mouth-drooling natural dog treats. It contains Chicken, Beef, Venison, Rabbit, Duck, and Pork! The box can be personalised with a message so it’ll make a perfect gift. Nellys Deli is a small UK business based in Leeds, named after their adorable pooch Nelly!

Have a look at Nelly’s Natural Treat Selection Box here!

Pleased to Have Paws: Neath, Wales

Long Lasting Natural Split Antler Dog Chew image 0

Long-lasting natural antler chews tough enough for the most aggressive of chewers. The antlers are sourced from Fallow and Red Deer found in the Scottish Highlands. All sharp points have been removed for safe consumption.

Check out these antler chews by this small Welsh business here!

Pawsley Pet Supplies: St Helens England

Rabbit Ears 100% Natural Raw Treats For Dogs and Cats image 0

Pawsley Pet Supplies are offering these boxes of furry rabbit ears in packs of 10 and 15. Rabbit ears are low in fat and are fantastic natural dewormers! The box is easily posted and can fit through your letterbox. Just make sure your dog doesn’t get it first!

Interested in Pawsley’s rabbit ears? Then click here!

Post 4 Pets: Monmouth, Wales

Venison leg natural dog treats image 0

These venison legs are one of the more unusual natural dog treats on the market. The legs are 23cm long and will definitely keep your dog busy! Available in packs of 1 and 3 but be quick, they’re selling out fast!

Want these unique dog treats? Get them here!

Heath and Hound Co: Stowmarket, England

Sausage Box  Dog Treats  Food  Natural  Healthy  Pet Food image 0

A lovely sausage selection box perfect for any dog! A variety of flavours and textures, beautifully laid out so it’ll make a nice gift. Delivered by Heath and Hound Co, a small UK business based in Stowmarket.

You can find them here!

Olly & Me Designs: Wirral, England

Puppy Taster Natural Chew/Treat/Snack Box  100% Natural and image 0

Packed with goodies, this natural treat box contains 15 pieces at an amazing price! Dispatched by UK business Olly & Me Designs, boasting over 23,200 sales with a rating of 5 stars! You can’t go wrong with this starter box.

Want to know more? Check them out here!

Paws and Friends: Ramsbottom, England

Natural treats gift box. Dogs. Puppy. Dog treats. Healthy image 0

An all natural treat box available in medium or large sizes. These goodies are small enough for little dogs to enjoy. Bursting with flavour, Paws & Friends have created a box fit for Royalty! Your dog won’t hesitate to dive into this selection box.

Take a look in further detail here!

Jerk and Hyde: Bristol, England

15 chicken feet natural dog treat chew gift box image 0

This gift box contains 15 chicken feet. Chicken feet are great to give as rewards or simply just a tasty treat for your dog. Jerk and Hyde, a small UK business in Bristol have made sure their packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable!

Get them here!

The Liverpool Bakery: Liverpool, England

Dehydrated Fish Skin Cubes image 0

A box of dehydrated fish skin cubes freshly baked by The Liverpool Bakery. Available in sizes 50g and 100g with each treat containing natural oils, and minerals. Excellent for your dog’s coat and skin! Treats will last up to one year.

Visit The Liverpool Bakery here!

Enviromutt: Cambridge, England

Sprats natural dog treats in eco friendly packaging  healthy image 0

Enviromutt is packaging its products with environmentally friendly material. Contained within are sprats available in packs of up to 150g. These fish dog treats are perfect for dogs both big and small. An enjoyable, healthy snack.

Treats from Enviromutt are found here!