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Top dogs bark out their message to MPs

Allen Parton and his Canine Partner Endal at the House of Commons

Members of Parliament were treated to a display of canine excellence at the House of Commons last week when Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK) demonstrated their combined skills.

Unloading a washing machine on command and zipping up a cardigan are just two of over a hundred tasks that the Canine Partners trained dogs can use to empower their partner who uses a wheelchair. The Hearing Dogs can respond immediately to a baby’s cry, or a fire alarm and become the ears of a deaf partner. The Support Dogs can predict an oncoming epileptic fit in time to get help. Dogs for the Disabled can help those in wheelchairs achieve a more fulfilled and varied life.

The meeting, organised by Canine Partners, brought together the five member charities of Assistance Dogs UK, to put forward proposals to help more people with disabilities have the opportunity of sharing their lives with a registered and highly trained dog. The idea is that having a dog as a carer can give a person a far better quality of life than they would have thought possible and that the NHS could incorporate this into the person’s state funded ‘care package’.

"We are here to talk to Members of Parliament about the need for as many local authorities as possible to be made aware of these funding opportunities and their long term cost benefits to the NHS, Social Services and the nation," said Terry Knott, Chief Executive of Canine Partners.

Meanwhile Wendy Morrell in her wheelchair accompanied by her dog Caesar shared her story and left the audience in no doubt about the transformational effect of these canine carers.

Further demonstrations from trained dogs revealed their spontaneity and quick wits. It is hoped that further lobbying by ADUK will raise awareness of the opportunities [that are possible] for those who thought their lives would be severely restricted by [their] disability.