The story of Joey and Marilena

Joey was just a puppy when he was found in Paphos. He was taken by Paphos Municipal workers to the local kennels, where he spent a month before the animal welfare organisation Freedom Angels Animal Rescue took him into its care. He was subsequently adopted by a family but was returned a few months later.

Joey was 11 months old when Assistance Dogs Cyprus Training School chose him for training and to live with Marilena, who had approached the school after hearing about its work. Joey is now two years old.

Since December 2020, Joey and Marilena have become a family. At the same time, Joey continues to receive training from Assistance Dogs Cyprus at the home of Marilena, who participates actively in this.

Marilena is 26 years old and has suffered from epileptic seizures since she was a young girl. Her fear of a possible seizure limits her independence and autonomy, since it means that she always needs to be accompanied by someone else. She often finds herself isolated because she feels afraid, embarrassed and anxious at the thought of suffering a seizure in public. She also feels disappointed that, as a result of her condition, she has been deprived of the right to entertainment, a social life and communication. Now, with Joey in her life, thanks to his training and the communication between them, Marilena is gaining greater independence in her daily life and the way she functions and communicates is improving steadily.

What is an Assistance Dog and what can it do?

An Assistance Dog is the trained or trainee dog for people with visible or hidden disabilities. Assistance Dogs have free access everywhere, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). They can be identified by a special collar bearing the label ‘Assistance Dog’ and by their official certificates.

The training of an Assistance Dog is especially adapted to the needs of the handler/owner and his/her specific condition. For example, Assistance Dogs belonging to persons with epilepsy are trained so that, on most occasions, they can respond during a seizure and are able to recognise and communicate to their handler/owner that a seizure is imminent.

Furthermore, by their mere presence, Assistance Dogs strengthen the psychological state of disabled persons, helping them gain self-confidence and feel less anxiety and fear, by providing greater safety and freedom of movement inside and outside the home.

Assistance Dogs Cyprus Training School

The Assistance Dogs Cyprus Training School focuses on improving the lives of individuals with visible or hidden disabilities.
Specifically, it trains dogs and certifies them upon completion of their training.

Dogs are trained to help:

  • People with impaired mobility or mobile disabilities
  • People with partial or total loss of hearing
  • People with epilepsy or diabetes (seizure alerts)
  • People needing emotional support (emotional support dogs)

The School trains dogs without employing any type of physical or psychological cruelty. On the contrary, it uses only scientifically accepted reward-based (positive reinforcement) training methods.

The Assistance Dogs Cyprus team believes that many abandoned dogs in Cyprus have enormous potential to be trained as Assistance Dogs. For this reason, team members visit dog shelters on the island in order to find such dogs and give them a ‘second chance’ so that, with training and care, they can become excellent Assistance Dogs and ‘guardian angels’ for people with particular health problems.

The role of Cyta

Cyta has shone the spotlight on the case of Joey and Marilena because it wishes to show how the power of communication between the two of them has improved the life and day-to-day existence of Marilena in such a way that she is able to function and communicate better.

For this reason, Cyta has decided to offer a number of Smartphone accessories available at all Cytashops, starting at the symbolic price of just €3. The entire amount of every purchase will be used to continue training Joey as Marilena’s Assistance Dog.

Additionally, in an effort to raise public awareness of the importance of free access to all people accompanied by such specially trained dogs, it opens its doors and welcomes Assistance Dogs and Guide  Dogs to all Cyta shops throughout Cyprus!

...because communication is everyone’s right!