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Pets in practice and partnership

Nicola and her dog Will receiving a certificate from BBC TV's Emma Milne
at Dogs for the Disabled's annual event 'Celebrating Partnerships'

Big smiles and wagging tails were out on show at Dogs for the Disabled's Celebrating Partnerships event held at the charity's centre in Banbury, Oxfordshire last week.

This is the charity's second Celebrating Partnerships but the day is already fast becoming an established event in the charity year. Peter Gorbing, chief executive at the charity welcomed over 70 guests to the event, which included clients with their dogs, puppy socialisers, fundraisers and corporate supporters. The aim was to thank all those involved in making every partnership happen.

Speaking at the event, Mr Gorbing said: "Over the last year, partnerships have flourished, in total we have trained 26 partnerships, more than ever before, and today fourteen of them are here to celebrate. Of course, it is a credit to everyone involved, from the volunteer puppy socialisers, to our training department as well as all the office staff. We also need to thank our dedicated volunteers that help us to fundraise and, of course, our sponsors; Pets at Home - who are also celebrating reaching their target of £100,000 raised for Dogs for the Disabled this year - Hill’s Pet Foods, who supply food for every dog throughout its working life; as well as Intervet and Pet Protect, all of whom enable us to continue the work.

"But the work doesn't stop when the dogs leave the centre. Once home both the individual and the dog work hard together to ensure that they get the best from one another and create the necessary bond for the relationship to work. Watching you all today it is clear that you have achieved just that."

Also at the event was Vets in Practice TV personality Emma Milne, who presented every partnership with a certificate and perhaps, more importantly a doggy 'goody' bag. During her speech she said: "Even before I met you all, I had heard about the amazing things that have been achieved. From a woman who no longer falls out of bed because her dog picks up anything she drops and she no longer reaches further than is safe for her. To a man who when asked what it means to have his dog could only say this. 'Imagine not having any hands, that's what its like to imagine life without my dog'."

Nicola Dunn attended the event with her dog Will, they have been partnered since January 2001 and the list of everyday tasks that Will is able to do for Nicola is huge, helping her to lead a more independent life. Nicola and Will are such a success story that Nicola no longer relies on carers to do even simple tasks for her. "Will does so much, he lets friends and carers in the house for me, puts the rubbish in the bin, carries my shopping, and even picks up the telephone and brings it to me wherever I am in the house. Before I had him I never would have had the confidence to catch a bus but now it's an everyday occurrence."

Mr Gorbing said he felt the day had been a great success: "Seeing these partnerships working so well together really inspires us to train more dogs. We are already on target to train more dogs to help more people on the waiting list this year, and we hope we will continue to be able to help more people."