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Support dog helps save his master's marriage

A SUPPORT dog helped to save a Gulf War’s marriage after his master suffered severe amnesia after an accident during the conflict.

Allen Parton had no memory of marrying his wife Sandra 19 years ago, but exchanged new wedding rings with Sandra, at a hotel in Liphook, Hants, last weekend.

Mr Parton, 43, said he wished to create new memories with the woman he married in 1983. "I have grown to love the same woman twice," he said. "I want to have memories of seeing my wife walking up the aisle. I have no memories of the first time it happened."

Mrs Parton said the wedding was her idea: "Allen would always tell people he didn't have a history and it bothered me. We often talked about renewing our vows before the accident."

In 1991, Mr Parton, a chief petty officer on board the Royal Navy destroyer Glasgow, suffered head injuries during a car accident. He spent three years in hospital unable to walk, talk or recognise his family. He could not remember Mrs Parton, 43, or the births of their children Liam, 17 and Zoe, 16.

Also at Saturday's ceremony was Mr Parton's pet labrador, Endal. Mr Parton, who uses a wheelchair, credits Endal with his successful recovery and said he was a "lost man" until he met the dog in 1998.

Endal performs a lifesaving role as an Assistance Dog and is trained to cover his master with a blanket when he suffers from the occasional blackout.


"I had become bitter and twisted after what had happened to me in the Gulf and my wife and I were close to splitting up. But Endal gave me new confidence and gradually he brought me back to my family."

Mrs Parton said she considered divorce, but Endal saved their marriage by helping with daily tasks.

For example, Mr Parton would touch his face and Endal would fetch his razor.

Then in May 2001, Endal was credited with saving his life when Mr Parton was knocked unconscious by a car outside a Birmingham hotel. Endal covered Mr Parton with blanket, pushed a mobile phone to his face and alerted hotel staff.

On Wednesday, of this week, Princess Alexandra rewarded him for his bravery with the canine equivalent of the George Cross at a ceremony organised by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals.