By JENNY STOCKS
Allen Parton, who was left paralysed and brain damaged after a road accident during a Gulf War military operation in 1991, goes to get cash with dog EJ
With his waggly tail in the air, three-and-a-half month-old labrador puppy Monty refuses to let go of the keys in his mouth.
After shaking them from side to side, he eventually decides to drop them and bounces off to find another set.
To see this naughty little mutt in action, it’s hard to believe that, in less than 18 months, he could be transforming the life of a young man who has lost limbs in Afghanistan, a policewoman shot in the line of duty or an injured firefighter.
(From left) Monty, Colonel, Flanders, Yomper and Juno. Allen created Hounds For Heroes in February 2010
Monty is not just playing — very soon, he will be taught to pick up these same keys and deliver them gently to the hands, or even mouth, of his future owner, who may not be able to perform even simple tasks alone.
Monty, along with five other boisterous golden retriever and labrador pups, is at the start of his training as a ‘cadet’ with Hounds For Heroes.
This one-of-a-kind charity, started in February 2010, has been set up to train assistance dogs for injured and disabled men and women from the Armed Forces and emergency services.
The animals will be able to help their owner out of bed, open and shut cupboards and even operate light switches.
'I never have to nag him (EJ) to do anything. He's always looking at me, checking on me, and his head doesn't hit the pillow until I am asleep,' said Allen
At the moment there are only six pedigree canine recruits, who arrived in September and October.
Each one will cost £20,000 during its working life, but if funds keep pouring in then hopefully many more dogs will follow.
And the founder himself couldn’t be a better advert for the charity’s work.
Hounds For Heroes is the creation of Allen Parton, 53, a former naval Chief Petty Officer, who was left paralysed and brain damaged after a road accident during a Gulf War military operation in 1991, and who might not have been here today had it not been for a special labrador called Endal.
Not only did this multi-talented dog learn to help Allen get dressed, go shopping and collect money from cashpoints, among dozens of other things, but he helped him to communicate again and build a new life with his wife Sandra, 53, and children Liam, 25, and Zoe, 24.
EJ - short for Endal Junior - is also helping to train the next generation of Hounds For Heroes
‘When I came back to England, the first five years were a daze,’ says Allen.
‘I couldn’t speak, read, write or walk, and I had no emotions. I’ll admit that I tried to commit suicide twice.
'My memory was damaged so I couldn’t remember my wedding or the birth of my two children. I had no bond with my family at all.
‘Sandra was advised to put me in a home and get on with her life but, thankfully, she refused.’
Endal was the turning point. He was a puppy from the charity Canine Partners, which provides assistance dogs to those with long-term disabilities such as multiple sclerosis.
He had completed basic training, but had a joint condition that made him officially unsuitable to be an assistance dog.
After 14 months, the dogs will have finished basic training and will attend the centre five days a week before being introduced to their owner
'If I get into a lift, all I have to say is "up" or "down" and he'll (EJ) press the right button with his nose,' said Allen
'People forget that, even when the guns go quiet, the battle with disability is just beginning for so many,' said Allen
Cheques made payable to Hounds For Heroes should be sent to: Hounds For Heroes, Unit 2B, Rookery Farm Buildings, Ramsdean, Petersfield, Hants GU32 1RU.
Online donations can be made through Virgin Money Giving or Just Giving — links can be found at www.houndsforheroes.com.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Using the cashpoint. Nipping to the shops. The heart-warming story of the pups giving hope to war heroes
By JENNY STOCKS