Dogs take over month of October to help raise money for charity

Toby Turner with autism assistance dog Sox. PNL-170914-102742001
Toby Turner with autism assistance dog Sox. PNL-170914-102742001

North Oxfordshire-based charity Dogs for Good is giving the month of October a doggy-themed makeover to put the ‘fun into fundraising’.

Dogtober is the latest campaign for the charity, which has come up with six ideas to encourage people to raise money including a ‘pupcake’ sale, Welly Wednesday, Dogtober walks and wearing green for the month.

Community fundraising manager, Stephanie Lawless, said the idea came from sister charity Assistance Dogs Australia.

She said: “Our own supporters have taken the idea and really run with it. Everyone seems to love it. With six different activities, there is at least one most people can do.”

If this year’s Dogtober is successful, the charity plans to run the special month in future years. Mrs Lawless said she hoped the month would increase awareness of the charity and would eventually encourage people to get more involved, even becoming a puppy socialiser.

“We want people who take part to take photos of their events or even video and share them with us. Even though we have suggested activities, people can come up with their own. It will be exciting to see what people come up with,” she said.

Dogs for Good trains dogs to help people across the country with disabilities and children with autism.

Among those who have benefitted from Dogs for Good funds are Toby Turner, who has been paired with autism assistance dog, Sox.

In 2012, the Turner family, from Bicester, hit an all-time low with Toby struggling and getting frustrated with his own behaviour, which he couldn’t control. He would self-harm and was excluded from school three times for becoming violent or unsafe. On trips out, the smallest thing would upset Toby and he would block everything out. Then he started talking about ending his life.

But when Sox arrived in 2013, his world changed. Toby’s family were astonished by the miracle Sox performed. In two weeks, the atmosphere in the house was transformed.

Toby, now 11, said: “Sox has filled a huge hole in my heart. We’re connected by an imaginary string from his heart to mine. I just feel better now Sox is here.”

“Toby took to Sox immediately,” said his mum, Vikky. “He talked to Sox and wanted to look after him straight away. I knew he had an affinity with animals, but this was incredible. It was an instant friendship, an immediate bond. Sox’s response to Toby is unconditional: he doesn’t care whether Toby has autism and he’s just the same with him whether he’s happy, sad or distressed.”

For more on Dogtober, see www.dogsforgood.org.