Meet Caesar
Caesar at your Service!Wendy Morrell of Dorset, England is mom to a very special guy named Caesar, an Assistance Dog from the UK's Dogs for the Disabled. Please share in this special union by reading this essay that Wendy recently [2002] wrote about her guy.

Caesar who is a Golden Retriever, approaching three and a half years of age, was trained by Dogs for the Disabled, and our partnership began in December 2000. In 1989 I was involved in a sports accident, which resulted in a severe brain injury together with neck and facial injuries. Nowadays I use a wheelchair for mobility, am forgetful, disorganised, get dizzy when I bend down, have epilepsy and impaired balance. Caesar has enhanced my life tremendously in the two years I have had him, and he has really brought me out of the dark comer where I had lurked for years after the injury.

Ordinary tasks, if indeed any tasks can be regarded as ordinary, are the essence of Caesars' existence. He lives to please, not because he is always asked, but simply because he appears to derive joy and pleasure from pleasing me. His readiness and desire to be with me and please me has been largely responsible for a tremendous increase in confidence for me, I am now relaxed and generally at ease, the return of the ability to let things ride that don't really matter, when previously they had been the last straw. I have regained the colour in my life, and am more able to appreciate humour, joy and love. I have regained the ability to give to others, when previously I was locked into my own world, unable to put aside my immediate needs, worries and pains, or have any sense of the needs of others or to feel good about myself.

In concrete terms, this has led me to be able to travel alone for the first time since my accident by train and taxi, to stay in hotels and visit friends with Caesar as my escort, and generally experience the fullness of life. I even help by giving talks for D.F.D. now, when previously I would have clammed up in a room of relatives or friends. Caesar is so adaptable too.

Caesar, The First Dog to Attend Wimbledon
Friday's World By Tuftonian, Dog World, July 26, 2002

Caesar the Golden Retriever  became the first dog to attend Wimbledon when he accompanied his owner, Wendy Morrell, to the All England Club for men's quarter finals day. On arrival, they found that they had both attained celebrity status themselves.

Caesar, who was trained by the charity, Dogs for the Disabled, and Wendy were greeted and interviewed in the morning before play started by TV presenter Gabby Roslin and later appeared on BBC's Breakfast at Wimbledon slot. "Caesar behaved fantastically well and thoroughly enjoyed the attention from everyone," said Wendy, formerly a keen sportswoman. "He especially likes eating the strawberries that Gabby fed him!" Afterwards the pair were given a tour of Wimbledon before the gates officially opened.

Wendy was the victim of a sporting accident in 1989 that left her in a wheelchair. "Before Caesar I could so easily get frustrated or go into a downward spiral of depression if I dropped something and couldn't pick it up," she said. "Now he helps me with everything." The pair have been together for 18 months. "Caesar's affect on my life has been enormous," said Wendy, who traveled to London from her home in Dorset. "Now I get involved with things I would have been too scared to previously. He is priceless because of what he does and the independence he gives me has improved my self-esteem. He's my hero."

Although rain interfered with play, Wendy and Caesar were able to see some exciting play between Richard Krajicek and Mark Philippoussis, and Serena Williams and Daniel Hantuchova. "I had a wonderful day," Wendy said. "I was glad to have Caesar on hand to help. He must have been the only spectator that spent much of the afternoon asleep!

During this year especially, I have seen a maturity in Caesar and his intuition when things are not right has come to the fore. When I fell from my wheelchair recently, he was immediately at my side, and nudging my head with his nose to check everything was okay. When I cry, he comes to me for a cuddle without being called. I have noticed when laying in bed at night he occasionally gets up, walks round my bed, checks on me and then returns to his own bed.

Caesars' intuition really saved me from a very unpleasant and potentially dangerous situation at the end of September. We were walking on the heath adjacent to my home, (I always use an electric scooter for exercising Caesar). As I approached a bend in the path on the heath, as if from nowhere a man jumped out from bushes about six feet ahead of me. I had to stop immediately. I was shocked and frightened as the man was topless with a t-shirt wrapped around his face and head, his then pushing his trousers down to his ankles. I was distracted for a moment, noticing my heart was pounding, when I heard Caesar running up behind me. My immediate thought was that he was rushing to greet the man, when he ran past me and simply carried on running towards the man. I realised Caesars' body language was all wrong for a friendly Golden greeting, and watched him literally herd the man (who was now scooting backwards, with arms flailing), off the path and approximately four feet into a gorse bush! Caesar did this swiftly and effectively, he didn't touch the man. There was no barking, biting or growling, he simply charged right at the man!

It was as Caesar moved away from the man, rushing back to check on me, I saw his hackles were up, and I realised that he had totally understood this as a potentially dangerous situation and acted accordingly. Caesar remained between the man and I as I started the scooter, turned the corner and headed for home. That part was also quite scary as I had to turn my back on the man to get away to safety. Each and every time I turned to look back to ensure the man had not moved towards me again, Caesar, who was following behind, would turn and look at him too. We made it to the entrance of the heath some 200 yards away safely, and I was able to telephone the Police from there.

Obviously, I was very scared by the incident and initially found it difficult to pluck up the courage to visit the heath, where we had spent so many happy hours, again. My neighbours helped by coming to call for me when walking their own dogs, and in his own way Caesar has helped too. We now venture onto the heath alone again, and every time we pass the comer where this incident happened, I notice Caesar has a heightened sense of alertness, and checks the comer carefully before looking back at me, as if to say, "It's ok Mum, there's nobody there."

It was only as I recounted this incident to the Police that I realised that I have only ever seen Caesar with his hackles up once before, and that was when a daring fox entered our garden one afternoon and attempted to steal Caesars' much loved toy monkey from the lawn! From willingly carrying out his everyday tasks, to coping with extraordinary and new situations, Caesar is a shining example of love and devotion, and is my ticket to leading a fuller life in the knowledge that he will be there for me no matter what crops up. In my opinion Caesar is a tremendous ambassador of his breed, and a testament to the care and training he received in his early life from Dogs for the Disabled.

LIFE BUDDIES: Assistance Dogs don't simply provide Physical Help — New Research shows they Improve their Owners' Health, Confidence, and even their Social Lives!
By Carolyn Menteith, Dogs Today, July 2002

Case Study: Wendy and Caesar

A short conversation with Wendy quickly revealed an intelligent woman who refuses to let her disability be a physical barrier to what she can do. Wendy and her assistance dog, Caesar, were partnered together 15 months ago. Every day, Wendy's life is getting busier and she gets more adventurous in what she does — all thanks to Caesar. This year, Caesar will be the first assistance dog to attend the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, and Wendy is now using the training on her own for the first time in years.

Disabled since she was a teenager, Wendy maintained a full and active life, but a sporting accident in 1989 resulted in brain damage, and left her with memory problems and dizzy spells, amongst other things. In 1995, Wendy applied to Dogs for the Disabled, and a year later she was matched with Caesar, a very handsome Golden Retriever.

It is the most ordinary things that Caesar does which make him extraordinary to Wendy. Her memory problems mean that she can sometimes forget where she has left her keys, but Caesar won't let her leave the house without them. As soon as she gives the instruction 'find keys', he will search all the usual places until they are found. "Before Caesar, my anxiety levels were very high all the time," said Wendy. "I could so easily get frustrated at the slightest thing, or go into a downward spiral of depression because I dropped something and couldn't pick it up. I used to sleep appallingly badly, listening out for the slightest noise. I sleep very well now because I know Caesar will alert me if there is anything outside."
"Caesar is everything l wanted and more. He is priceless because of what he does, and the independence he gives me has improved my self-esteem and given me back an identity. Before I got him, friends asked me if it was a good idea and suggested that he might tie me down. In reality, his effect on my life has been the opposite — I go out more and find myself getting involved with things that I would have been too scared to do before. I have made new friends through the things I do with Caesar, and he is an icebreaker when I'm out shopping or taking him for a walk. I got to a stage where I just couldn't be bothered to try anything new, but now I never stop. I'm even teaching Caesar to help me with new tasks, and it gives me a real lift when we're successful. He is just a wonderful animal."

Wendy Hails Caesar and a Bright Future
By Emily Twinch, Bournemouth Daily Echo, January 4, 2005 

OUT AND ABOUT: Wendy Morrell's life has been transformed by the arrival of her helper dog Caesar

WHEN a young excited Caesar the dog entered Wendy Morrell's life he knocked over a glass of orange juice and she was worried he might be too much for her. But since then the five-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever has become her best friend and lifeline and she would not do without him.

The 45-year-old former maths teacher and lecturer suffered brain damage in a sporting injury in 1989, leaving her in a wheelchair with epilepsy and memory problems. Wendy, who also held a private pilot's license and was trying out for the British archery team for the European championships at the time, struggled with simple tasks after the accident. She would regularly drop, lose or misplace items such as food and keys, which would mean she became upset and frustrated.

Wendy said: "It was tremendously difficult. I had a poor memory and mobility and you end up forgetting things. "It was impossible to establish a daily routine, or indeed have any purpose to get up in the morning."

In 2000, Dogs for the Disabled presented her with Caesar, and although his wagging tale knocked over the glass of orange juice on the first trip to her home in Beacon Road, Broadstone, in December of that year she took him in. Wendy said: "I couldn't do without him now. Our partnership is based on mutual respect, understanding and love. "It's a relationship of trust. He trusts me, and I trust him to help me and he delivers the goods. "He is with me 24-hours a day and is my best friend, but he has also brought a level of independence that I wouldn't have without him."

Neighbours have told Wendy they used to believe she was agoraphobic and that it was difficult to hold a conversation with her until Caesar came along and gave her a new lease of life. After the accident, she lost a lot of her confidence. Caesar - who has already featured in the Daily Echo for getting a Golden Bonio award nomination and appearing on a Dog of the Year Calendar 2004 - has greatly helped. Wendy explained: "When you become disabled and you can't do things, you lose a lot of confidence. Everyone has lost keys around the house, but when that happens several times a day it becomes very demoralising. It leads to inertia - it is easier not to try something than try and fail."

Caesar stops Wendy falling out of bed - as happened two or three times a month before - and does a lot of retrieving and memory tasks, such as remembering Wendy's keys when she leaves the house. Wendy said Caesar can be playful but also impeccably behaved.

Caesar really loved this job being photographed for the Company of Animals Catalog. Wendy and Caesar spent a day with Roger Mugford at his farm and animal behaviour centre for the shoot.