Michael Forbes’ hope for an independent future seemed bleak after a road cycling accident left him quadriplegic 11 years ago – that was until he met Fizz.
Fizz the assistant labrador entered the 46-year-old’s world in 2014 and has become a vital “puzzle piece” in Mr Forbes’ everyday life since.
Especially about six weeks ago when, as the former Australian triathlete was exiting his custom-made van in his wheelchair, he toppled over and was unable to get up.
Fortunately, Fizz knew exactly what to do and sprung into action immediately.
“I’ve got a little bag with my phone and keys attached to my wheelchair, so Fizz got into that and got my phone out and put it on my chest so I could reach it,” Mr Forbes told Yahoo News Australia.
“Then I got him to alert bark and draw attention so that I could get somebody to help.”
There happened to be a postman nearby at the time who heard Fizz barking and came to help.
“The postie was able to then get someone else, so two people were then able to get me up and put me back in the chair and off we went,” Mr Forbes said.
The IT specialist from Melbourne said Fizz was the “missing piece” to his puzzle, and not only helped him in times of crisis, but also with regular everyday tasks.
“I’m pretty good at looking after myself, but if I drop my phone or my keys, or even a drink bottle on the floor, I can’t pick them up, but I can get him to do that,” he said.
Fizz can also pass Mr Forbes his crutches, press the button at pedestrian lights and even use his teeth to pull a blanket over him.
Mr Forbes said without his loyal companion, he would feel particularly nervous going a full day completely independent.
“He was the final piece of the puzzle that allowed me to be independent from 9am in the morning to 6pm at night,” he said.
“The best way to think of him for me, is like an insurance policy.”
The organisation is urgently seeking volunteer puppy educators in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Anyone interested in helping can visit assistancedogs.org.au.
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