AN IRISHMAN with Parkinson's Disease has had his life transformed for the better thanks to the help of one very special - and ever so good - black labrador.
Duncan Hughes, a father-of-two from Dublin, met Leon, a black labrador who aids him with stability around six months ago, according to RTE.
Rather than just acting as a companion, Leon is the first helper-dog to be specifically trained to assist with a person's general mobility, their stability as well as their gait.
Mr Hughes said: "This is the best treatment to improve my quality of life among all the treatments I’ve had for Parkinson’s over the last 17 years."
He added: "Previously when I was walking, people used to think I was drunk or on drugs. Now they just smile. The two of us are walking more than six kilometres every day now. It has been a complete change of life."
Parkinson's is a long-term neurological disease that affects the way the brain co-ordinates body movements, including walking, talking and writing.
It's thought that it affects around 8,000 people in Ireland today.
Duncan used to have problems when his feet get stuck on the ground and freeze. He wasn’t able to go for regular walks, and would struggle to move about the house.
There are a number of ways of managing Parkinson's Disease and easing the symptoms, but there is no cure.
Mr Hughes told RTE that Leon's assistance has been the most beneficial and effective treatment he's had for his condition.
"He [Leon] is the first treatment for me having Parkinson's that has addressed my quality of life.
"It's actually making my life better. He's like a part of me at this stage.
"I don't go anywhere without him. He looks after me and I look after him."
Leon's relationship with Duncan and the help he's providing him with is the very first long-term study of a patient with Parkinson’s using a dog that has been trained specifically for them.