A YOUNG woman from Benfleet has spoken about how her life has been changed by her assistance dog as part of an awareness week.

Lucy Watts, 23, of Swans Green Close, was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome when she was 14.

The condition affects connective tissues in skin, tendons, ligaments and bones.

She now has to use a wheelchair and fights a daily battle against bouts of chronic pain and fatigue.

However, he life was changed when she got Molly, a working Cocker Spaniel, four years ago as a puppy. With support, Lucy has trained Molly through the three levels of becoming an assistance dog, from basic obedience, up to completing complex tasks for her, such as helping her remove her jacket, fetching items and getting help if she needs it.

Lucy, who received an MBE last year for her work raising awareness about the condition said: “As well as helping me doing daily tasks, companionship is also a big part.

“We wake up together every day and I take her for a walk and then she stays with me while I do my work.

“The best thing is that with Molly, I’m not disabled, I’m just mum.”

She said she was full supported the awareness week, that celebrated all types of assistance dogs, include blind and hearing dogs, autism dogs, and medical assistance dogs.

She added: “It is amazing what the dogs can do.

“They are so smart.

“I think we sometimes underestimate how smart they are.

“For Molly, helping me is a gain for her and she loves to come out and go to events.”

She said that there was greater awareness from people that Molly was a working dog and shouldn’t be touched by passersby without her permission, although some people still do it. The National Assistance Dog Awareness week ends today.