Meeting HRH Prince Michael of Kent with army dog Buster
A DAY at Crufts is an unforgettable occasion to every dog and his owner, but there is one special dog in particular who can be said to have experienced every part of Crufts bar Best in show - Assistance Dog Endal.
Endal and his partner Allen Parton will this year be taking part in their ninth Crufts, manning the Canine Partners stand first thing in the mornings and last thing at night and generally promoting the value of the dog in today's society.
‘As well as fulfilling his PR role, 10 year old Endal is still enabling me to have a quality of life I thought once lost to me for ever, his love and dedication has never once diminished. In fact as he gets older he is learning to do things, "without being taught to", that dogs shouldn't be able to do (chip and pin a very current example).’
Endal has often appeared on the BBC Crufts programme updating folk on what he has been up to over the previous year, and from so many memories Allen says particular highlights include appearing on Blue Peter in 2000 as a worthy stand in for the Best in show winner who had had to fly back to America - and getting his Blue Peter badge!
Another memorable Crufts was 2001 when Endal saved Allen’s life after he was knocked out of his wheelchair by a speeding car late at night. Despite a night at the hospital Allen says Endal never missed his Good Citizen slot each day and dutifully performed to Crufts throngs
In 2002 Endal was awarded his Gold Good Citizen badge in the Special Events ring, the first Assistance Dog to be presented with the award at Crufts. Following a year of the Foot and Mouth outbreak Allen and Endal were happy to take the exam to raise awareness of the need for responsible ownership.
Allen says ‘We had to be put through our paces and it was not an easy thing to do. Reliable Endal passed all his bits with flying colours, I sadly let him down by getting one question about parasites wrong but we passed handsomely!’
In 2004 Endal (holder of the Animal George Cross for Animal Bravery) with Buster the army Dog (Holder of the Animal Victoria Cross) helped launch Crufts 2004 in London the week prior to the event, and then both dogs worked on the SSAFA stand over the four days raising funds for the service community, manning the SSAFA stand as well as meeting their usual commitments.
In 2005 Endal was nominated as a Hero Dog, and although he was not the eventual winner of the Kennel Club's Hero Dog of the Year award, which went to good pal Buster the Army dog, Allen says:
‘Taking part and being nominated was 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.
‘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 gave 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.’
And so to Crufts 2006, when Allen and Endal will again be doing their bit for the Canine Partners organisation as well as helping to promote the work of Dog Theft Action and Labrador Rescue.
Over the years this dedicated dog - who also fits in visits as a PAT Dog! - has become an essential part of the Crufts landscape; as Allen explains:
‘Endal has become part of the Crufts institution now and folk from all around the world really don't feel their visit to the show is complete without meeting "their Endal". Our aim now is to try and repay the world of dog lovers for taking Endal and myself to their hearts and making the partnership what it is today!’
Such is Endal’s celebrity that to date he has had an amazing 300 film crews from around the world film him, he has featured in most major publications and has a fan base which is worldwide. He is currently the most highly decorated peace time dog and yet fulfils his role of being Allen’s carer each and every day.
As Allen sums it up:
‘My guardian angel has four legs and a really cold nose!’