Falcon is a hero in his owner Beth’s eyes (Image: Beth Ponsford)
Beth Ponsford, 27, from Somerset, trained her heroic assistance dog Falcon to sniff out her low blood sugar levels and perform therapy for her anxiety – all with YouTube videos at home
The world’s greatest dog show is back this week showcasing every aspect of the role that dogs play in our lives – both great and small. Beth Ponsford is one proud pet owner that will be competing at Crufts 2023 on Thursday with her life-saving assistance dog, Falcon.
Beth, 27, welcomed Falcon into her home as a puppy four years ago and immediately began training him to “save her life”. Beth, who has autism, anxiety, hyperglycaemia, heart problems and suffers with panic attacks, previously had 10-year-old Snoop Dogg assisting her daily.
But when it was time for the old pooch to retire, Falcon stepped up – and he’s been her biggest hero ever since. Beth, from Somerset, told the Mirror: “I couldn’t leave the house without him. He saves my life every day.”
Falcon has transformed his disabled owner’s life and Beth couldn’t be more thankful for his immense support.
“He alerts me if my blood sugar levels drop too low, if my heart rate gets too fast and will perform deep pressure therapy on me if I get too anxious,” Beth explained.
“If we are out shopping and I feel overwhelmed, he will guide me out of the shops to somewhere quieter and lay on my chest.”
Beth describes Falcon as a “lovable, goofy dog” that likes being out and about, playing with his friends and most of all, helping her.
“He alerts me before I ever feel anything. I get a 30-minute warning when my heart rates slows down,” she said.
When Falcon was six-months-old, Beth began taking him to local shows for fun, and now the pair will be “living their dream” competing for Best in Show.
“We came in third place at the Bath Championship Dog Show in May and qualified for Crufts. I’m excited and nervous,” Beth said.
Beth first realised it was possible to train your own assistance dog through a friend in America, and used YouTube videos to teach Falcon the basics.
“I taught him all his tasks and how to behave in public. When my blood sugar levels dropped, I would take a swab from my mouth and teach him the difference,” Beth explained.
“Falcon is an amazing assistance dog because he has a calm personality and isn’t bothered by attention.”
Beth chose to train Falcon herself because it can be a long process going through charities, and “many of them don’t cover mental health”.
“It’s all treat-based, positive reinforcement. He likes being able to see his reward,” Beth explained.
The flat-coated retriever has enabled Beth to overcome her anxiety and she describes him as her “hero”.
“I couldn’t do life without him. I struggle leaving the house without Falcon – he is amazing,” she said.
“We enjoy going to shows together and hanging out with friends – which I couldn’t do without his company. He is a wonder to be around and makes every day a lot better.”