On Tuesday 30th October 2018, Canine Partners UK hosted a special day at Drapers Hall, London. The charity transforms the lives of disabled people across the UK by providing canine partners. With each dog being specifically trained to meet the needs of their partnered person, the charity can help adults who have a physical disability or conditions that affects their daily life and limits their independence.
Performing tasks that are physically difficult, painful or even impossible for their partners, assistance dogs enable people to feel greater independence and have a better quality of life with their disabilities. The audience were treated to demonstrations from several canine partnerships which showed the dogs’ intricate training, including; opening and unloading the washing machine, picking up dropped keys and credit cards and vitally, helping their partner get out of bed in the mornings.
The partnerships provide people with psychological and social benefits including improved confidence, social interaction and self-esteem.
More than 1.2 million people in the UK use a wheelchair, and a significant number of those would benefit from a canine partner. Among the guests at the event was canine partner Tim Scott, who in 2009 was involved in a terrible accident leaving him as a “triplegic”. Sustaining devastating injuries such as; multiple broken bones, 2 punctured lungs and a broken pelvis amongst others, meant he would be left bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Tim calls his canine partner Elliott his “soul mate”. It is clear that Tim benefits from Elliott’s presence, especially through Tim’s recount of how he was left stranded after his wheelchair rolled away from his car. With no one else around, it was Elliott who lived up to his name, “assistance” dog, and retrieved his wheelchair.
It is not just physical support that these assistance dogs provide, but also emotional. Another partner, Alan Edbrooke, suffers from Parkinson’s disease and with it, anxiety. Alan describes how his partner, Hamlin, anticipates the onset of a panic attack and rests his head on his knee.
To see the Canine Partners on show, you can attend their annual Carol Service on December 13th 2018, at St Mary Abbotts Church, High Street Kensington. Allow these dogs to light up your Christmas, they really are the true stars of the show! Hosted by the Founder of Draycott Nursing and Care, Angela Hamlin; whose continuous support of the charity was rewarded with assistance dog, Hamlin, being named after her. Celebrities will be in attendance as will the charity’s patron, His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO.
In the midst of joy the festive season brings, it is important to remember that 154 applicants are awaiting an assistance dog. There are 414 dogs already working with their partners across the UK. From the selection of a puppy through to the dog’s retirement, a partnership costs £20,000. While it isn’t possible to put a price on a person’s independence it is possible to put a price on the training and development of a partnership. All proceeds from the evening go towards Canine Partners UK.
For more information: www.caninepartners.org.uk/draycottcarols