The life of a disabled 21-year-old artist from Amersham has been transformed, thanks to his assistance dog.

Joel was born with cerebral palsy quadriplegia, which means he has difficulty controlling the movement in his limbs. His speech is also slurred, and he suffers from associated dyspraxia.

Two years ago, Joel’s parents heard about Dogs for Good, a charitable organisation which matches people with dogs – taking into consideration lifestyle, personal circumstances and family situations.

They reached out to the charity and eventually found the perfect match, Harry the Labrador, and the pair have been inseparable ever since.

Jon, Joel’s father, explained the benefits that having Harry has given Joel.

“They’re such a strong team – it goes beyond being just friends.

“It was clear right from the very first moment they met each other at Dogs for Good. Harry definitely chose Joel and he made the right choice. Their personalities are very similar – determined, single-minded, mischievous and a lot of fun!

“People do tend to stare at Joel because he’s got quite a loud voice and he’s a bit wobbly on his feet and while he’s never really had a problem with it, now he has Harry, people are staring at his handsome pal and not him.

“He’s always there when Joel needs him and he’s become an extension of Joel, he follows him around the house like a shadow.

Harry helps Joel live a normal life at Westminster University, helping him with small tasks such as pushing the button for automatic doors.

Joel, who’s currently studying for a degree in Fine Art majoring in photography, also takes Harry to social gatherings.

“Harry’s a big support to him, he’s a real buddy and acts as an icebreaker in social situations. People say hello to Harry first which takes the focus away from Joel.

“Joel’s always been confident, but Harry brings a different level of confidence out of him. He and Joel have become mini celebrities on the University campus!

“He’s funny, cheeky and certainly keeps us all on our toes. He’s a typical Labrador and his capacity for food knows no bounds. He’s trained us all to be much tidier. We never leave snacks lying around these days!

“He is unable to resist a pair of socks – he’ll even drop a toy he’s playing with if there’s a sock around.

“We all love Harry but there’s only one big love in his life and that’s my brilliant son. They are always getting up to mischief together.”