The London Dog Forum Ltd
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Hounds For Heroes
It is extraordinary to think the very first service dogs, Guide Dogs for the Blind, were introduced for the use of servicemen during WW1 but it has taken nearly a century for dogs trained in other types of assistance work to be provided specifically to the men and women who risk their lives for our country.
It is thanks to Allen Parton, who for many years had the dream to launch ‘Hounds for Heroes’ that assistance dogs are now being provided to ex-servicemen of the UK Armed Forces and Civilian Emergency Services who have been injured and disabled. With the provision of these dogs and the support of the people behind this charity, personnel are given a chance of freedom, independence and an enhanced quality of life.
The partnership that led to the foundation of ‘Hound For Heroes’ in 2009
Allen (centre) with EJ
The charity’s aims and ambitions plus their achievements so far are impressive, but nothing could describe the value of ‘Hounds for Heroes’ more vividly than the founder, Allen Parton’s own story.
Allen was a Chief Petty Officer serving in the Royal Navy during the Gulf War in 1991. Life could not have been sweeter. He had a promising career ahead of him and a loving wife with two children back in Portsmouth; then tragedy struck. Allen suffered a severe head injury that completely changed his life. He was traumatised severely, both physically and emotionally, and he was unable to walk, speak or write. He had no memory of getting married or of having children and spent the next five years in hospital struggling to come to terms with his disabilities.
Then along came Endal, a yellow Labrador assistance dog, who was destined to give Allen and his family a completely new lease of life. With Endal’s help, Allen regained his independence. His wife, Sandra no longer had to be at his beckon call 24 hours of the day 7 days a week, which allowed her to have more freedom and peace of mind. Soon Allen realised that not only did he owe his new-found confidence to his dog, but also he had saved his marriage and helped to rebuild the relationship he had with his children.
Endal was able to respond to over one hundred commands and use his instinct for problem solving. Time and time again he would astonish Allen with his ability. Once when Allen was struggling to reach up to get money from a cashpoint machine, Endal jumped up and retrieved both the money and the cashpoint card in his mouth and passed them to Allen. He had never been trained in this skill. In 2001, when Allen was visiting Cruft’s he was knocked out of his wheelchair by a speeding car and left unconscious on the ground. The driver was in such a state of shock that he was unable to help. Immediately Endal took charge. He placed Allen in the recovery position, covered him with a blanket and fetched his mobile phone. When the dog received no response from Allen he ran to a nearby hotel to raise the alarm.
It was the result of this remarkable partnership that Allen had the idea of setting up a new charity that would benefit other disabled servicemen and women in the way that he had been through his devoted dog, Endal. In 2009 Allen’s dream was realised when ‘Hounds For Heroes’ was officially launched.
The Aims’ of ‘Hounds for Heroes’
Initially ‘Hounds For Hero’s’ intends to raise £100,000 to buy 5 Labrador puppies, each of which will be carefully selected for the qualities needed for being a first-rate assistance dog. It is vital that these puppies have an excellent start in life and therefore ‘puppy parents’ are carefully chosen to begin the essential part of their training and socialisation. After 15 months, the specialist training begins which includes both the puppy parents and the new owner. Throughout this period the puppies meet on a weekly basis. Once these puppies are completely trained they will be fully transferred to their new owner.
Sadly Allen’s dog Endal died in the Spring of 2009 and one of the first puppies to be trained under this scheme is his new dog EJ (Endal Junior.)
Waitrose staff raises funds for Hounds for Heroes by embarking on an epic cycle ride from London to Paris and back to Portsmouth
As with every project of this kind, ‘Hound for Heroes’ is dependent on funds or donations.
By supporting this charity, you will not just be making a huge difference to someone’s life but it is a way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those brave men and women in the UK Armed Forces and Civilian Emergency Services for the wonderful work they do and for putting their own lives at risk daily in the service of others.
A number of successful fundraising events have already been held over the past few months and London Dog Forum always keeps abreast the latest activities and follows with a report in their news.
To learn more about ‘Hounds For Heroes’ and you can help, please click the logo below.