Allen and Endal enjoying the sunshine
THAT INDOMITABLE pair, Allen Parton and his assistance dog Endal were amongst the many stars and celebrities at Crufts. In fact, over the course of the show, Allen was unable to get very far in any hall without someone stopping him to wish him well and to pat Endal.
The well-known duo were amongst the six finalists for the Kennel Club's Hero Dog Of The Year competition, in which the public could vote for the most plucky canine via votelines flagged up on the Crufts TV programmes, in which the finalists were profiled.
As reported previously, the competition was won by 'Buster', the Army sniffer dog, partnered with his handler Staff Sgt Danny Morgan. Buster has seen action in such war-torn areas as Bosnia and Iraq, dodging into buildings where explosives may have been planted or unexploded bombs might be lurking.
However, Allen was unfazed and magnanimous in his praise. As a former serviceman himself - Allen saw active service in the Royal Navy during the first Gulf War in 1991 - he was more than happy ton see Danny and Buster take the top honours.
"We were pipped by Buster the Army dog, whom we both adore and have known for quite some time," Allen told OUR DOGS. "I can't honestly say that I am not disappointed but Buster is a lovely dog and if Endal was to be beaten by anyone it is nice it has to be by Buster. Thanks to everyone who supported us both, it was such an honour to be representing so many voters.
"Taking part and being nominated has been such an amazing experience and I have never felt as proud as I did when we went into the main ring on Sunday night at Crufts. Endal arrived at Crufts on Wednesday afternoon and left on Monday morning, during which time he worked his socks off not only for me but for Canine Partners and I feel I have brought home a real Hero. At the end of each day at the NEC he was still working and caring for me right up until my head hit the pillow each night."
Not that Endal ever has to prove his heroism or devotion to Allen, but it was at Crufts four years ago that he did just that. When visiting Crufts dog show in 2001, Allen was knocked out of his wheelchair by a speeding car and left unconscious in a car park. The driver was in a deep state of shock, so Endal took charge and pulled Allen into the recovery position, covered him with a blanket and fetched his mobile phone. Getting no response Endal then left Allen's side and went to a near by hotel and raised the alarm.
"Thankfully I was fine afterwards, but Endal saved my life by his quick thinking!" says Allen.
Not surprisingly, Endal was won several major awards for his amazing talents and devotion to duty. He was awarded BBC Blue Peter's highest honour, a Gold Blue Peter Badge and in August 2004, at that year's Wag and Bone show, he was presented with a unique 'life time achievement award' previously only given to humans. However, his award of the "PDSA Gold medal", the peacetime version of the charity's Dicken Medal, for his bravery and devotion to duty (the equivalent of the animal George Cross) has to be is his most significant award and recognition of his working career.
Allen continues, detailing Endal's appearance in the Hero Dog Of The Year final: "On Sunday night, with his head and otter like tail held high he proudly represented the very essence of every service dog.
"The Kennel Club in nominating Endal as one of the six Hero Dogs has given this partnership such dignity and feeling of worth. Endal and I will always be indebted to the KC for their support of our partnership over the years and they have all become such true friends to us both.
"We are now having a good rest and getting ready for what ever life throws at us next. Endal has taken me on the most incredible journey and I never know from one day to the next where will be - being under the spot light in the main arena on Sunday was a classic! "
OUR DOGS look forward to reporting on the next expedition by Allen and Endal. We can't help but feel that it won't be too far off…