A SAILOR who was left paralysed from the shoulders down has been honoured with an award after being given a new lease of life by his working dog.
Steve Brookes, of Titchfield, was hit by a car from behind when on his motorbike in 2008. He suffered a burst fracture of the neck, irreparably damaging his spinal cord, leaving him in a wheelchair.
As reported, Steve, 34, was having trouble adapting to life in a wheelchair and lost a lot of weight in hospital and had anxiety and breathing problems.
But now he and his working dog Kizzie are due to be given a Soldiering On award, after she changed his life.
The former Petty Officer commando said: ‘Before I met Kizzie I suffered with a range of problems. I was extremely sad, suffering from depression.
‘Coping with the transition from an active lifestyle into a wheelchair was soul-destroying for me as I could see the effect it was having on my family.’
But charity Canine Partners transformed Steve’s life after matching him and Kizzie together in June 2011.
He told The News he wanted the dog to help him with his two young daughters Grace, nine and Emily, six – he had found it hard being on the sideline watching them with his wife Nicola, 34.
The girls love playing fetch, which also helps with the dog’s training.
He said: ‘The first time I met Kizzie, what stood out for me was her unique kinked tail and her facial expressions.
‘There was an instant bond between me and her, when I need her she is there.
‘When we go out and about she helps by getting difficult lift buttons that are out of reach.
‘I always felt a little self-conscious about being in a wheelchair, that a feeling everyone is looking at me, but now I know they’re looking at Kizzie.’
The pair are set to be given the canine award, which aims to highlight the work dogs to help injured servicemen.
Steve and Kizzie went through a training course together – and Steve even found himself talking to the dog.
He added: ‘Independence-wise she has given me a new lease of life.
‘I don’t have to take a carer when I go out. My wife doesn’t have to worry.
‘If I get into trouble I don’t have to worry about dropping the phone, because automatically Kizzie will pick it up.’
The pair will get the award on April 5 at the Park Plaza Hotel in London.