ASSISTANCE DOG Endal and Allen Parton being shadowed by a film crew is hardly news these days, veterans of over three hundred film crews in their nine-year partnership.
Allen comments: ‘Endal is not a dog trained to do tricks for the camera, what he does every day has real purpose and enables me to have a quality of life I once thought lost to me for ever. When the crews leave at the end of a busy day’s filming Endal still goes on working for me right up until my head hits the pillow at the end of the day. It is trying to get the balance right when agreeing to being filmed that Endal is not exposed to an intolerable work load that compromises the safety of our partnership.
‘My wife Sandra (who is a qualified nurse) knows that when she goes out of the front door that should the need arise Endal will save my life should I collapse unconscious. His ability to put me into the recovery position, cover me with a blanket and then activate the emergency phone system as well as barking to alert the neighbours is serious stuff. He has learnt should I collapse in the bath to pull the plug out first before any other emergency procedure.’
The latest filming involved the Channel Four film crew following this world famous partnership going about their daily life. Allen always chuckles with pride when he hears the producer, who has spent many years filming dog-related programmes, say after a day of filming: ‘Is there anything that Endal can't do?’
‘I hate to admit it,’ says Allen, ‘but because we are living this partnership every day for real sometimes I forget just what Endal does do during the day for me without being asked or nagged to. So being reminded during filming of Endal abilities is a good thing for me to not be too complacent and it is all very humbling.’
Endal was filmed going about his regular chores in the Parton household and then out and about in the Hampshire market town of Petersfield. Buying the bus fare, operating the cash point machine, shopping, helping doing the washing, operating traffic lights the list is endless. Throughout all the filming his otter-like tail never stopped wagging.
One of the usual questions that causes a huge tidal wave of emotions to well up within Allen is what will happen when Endal can't work any more?
‘I can't recall or know a life without Endal said Allen and I know dogs don't live as long as us but it is an issue that is always on my mind,’ says Allen, seriously. ‘I have never noticed a decline in my condition and this is because Endal has taken on the work load each and every day, but as he gets older then I suppose I will start to feel the impact more. It is quite a scary time knowing that I am becoming disabled again, having had this quality of life through Endal's love and devotion.
It has been agreed - and I find this a really a great comfort - that Endal will retire to me when the time comes to hang up his cherished purple jacket. He will still be able to give me the psychological support he has always given me over the last nine years which has been just as important to me as the physical help. Also I feel that next natural stage of my rehab is to be able to be in the position of having to care for him in his old age...two old crocks together! ‘
Readers shouldn’t worry though... Endal is not having any thoughts of retirement yet. According to Allen he is currently well in the middle of his second puppyhood and working at such a level it is ‘almost mind-blowing’ especially when you consider Endal is a 10-year-old dog.
In no way does the expression ‘you can't teach an old dog new trick’ apply to Endal. It was recently reported in the national media that Endal has mastered the chip and pin machines, quite an impressive latest addition to his CV –m especially as many human beings haven’t mastered chip and pin yet!