A tale of best mates — how Mick and Dino have cared for each other for more than a decade

It’s fair to say that 54-year-old tradie Mick Jurd and his black labrador Dino are best mates. Inseparable even.

Mick is in a wheelchair outside with his black Labrador Dino.

Mick and his best mate Dino.

But the one big difference between Mick and Dino and many other families is that Mick is a paraplegic, the result of a motor accident in 2002. Dino is an assistance dog given to him 14 years ago to help him live as normal a life as possible from the confines of a wheelchair.

Life would have been completely different for this talented tradesman were it not for a tragic motorbike accident 18 years ago. Between work appointments on March the 18th of that year, Mick was knocked from his bike by a motorist who fled the scene and who has never been located.

"I spent almost a year in hospital. I was in a coma for the first month, intensive care for two and the spinal unit for three months. I wasn't shocked when doctors told me that I would never walk again because I'd been a regular skydiver and there was always a risk that it would take me out one day," said Mick.

Following three months of rehabilitation, Mick was allowed to go home to complete his recuperation. He kept himself busy in his workshop making the most of his welding and electrical skills but he was struggling to adjust. His home simply wasn’t built for someone in a wheelchair and he needed assistance. Then one day in February 2006 Mick received a phone call that would change everything.

"That was the best day of my life and I will never forget it. Dino came in to my life as an excited two- year-old labrador and we’ve been a great double act ever since. I love that dog to death," said Mick.

Given to him 14 years ago by his old insurer QBE, Mick had to learn how to work with Dino in his capacity as a working assistance dog. With the help of Dino’s trainer, they visited shopping centres, parks and even the local pub to ensure that Mick was able to get the most out of Dino and out of life. Over the years, Dino has accompanied him to medical appointments, on long car trips and shopping expeditions. They haven’t had a day apart in 14 years and are never out of each other's sight. It has been a long and happy journey that, sadly more than a decade on, will eventually run its course. Dino is now 16 years old and starting to slow down a bit. Gone are the exuberance and enthusiasm of years past and, these days, Dino finds it hard to stand by himself. A recent knee replacement has meant he isn't able to shadow Mick as often as he used to but, he said, he's content as long as he knows where Mick is.

"Three years ago, I transitioned in to icare's workers care scheme from the old workers compensation scheme and I now have a dedicated case manager who checks in with me regularly. icare also very quickly modified my home by building better access ramps, widening door frames and renovating my bathroom which makes being at home so much easier than before," he said.

"And I know Dino is happy because he will give me a flick with his tail when I come in to the room but in dog years he's 112 years old so I think he deserves a rest. He looked after me for a long time and I am just happy to return the favour," said Mick.