the indomitable duo’s decade at Crufts
Allen & Endal, firm favourites at Crufts
TEN YEARS is a long time in anyone’s book – and for a dog, it’s even longer! But that’s how long Assistance Dog Endal has been accompanying his master – or more accurately partner – Gulf War hero Allen Parton to Crufts and just about everywhere else!
This year the Kennel Club this year marked a major achievement in Endal’s illustrious career as a service dog by celebration his 10th appearance at Crufts with a surprise presentation from Caroline Kisko of a bottle of a card and champagne (which Allen promised to share with Endal!)
The KC’s Phil Buckley commented that, on this momentous occasion, Allen and Endal were ‘lost for words’ and admittedly a wee bit emotional. As Allen says, ‘Crufts has become so much part of the new life for the Parton family and we have made so many real friends over the years. Endal even has folk searching him out for the annual photograph with his adoring fans, to whom a Crufts without meeting Endal is just not complete. The KC and everyone involved with Crufts have supported this partnership for so many years’.
Back in 1991, Allen Parton was a Chief Petty Officer serving in the Royal Navy during the first Gulf War. He had a very promising military career ahead of him having served with distinction in the conflict and a wife and two children at home in Portsmouth. Then a tragic road accident changed his life completely.
Allen suffered a severe head injury which left him with considerable physical and emotional trauma. It wiped out his memories and left him unable to walk, speak or write. He couldn’t even remember getting married or the birth of his children. He spent the next five years in hospital, struggling to come to terms with his disabilities.
Then, 10 years ago Allen was partnered with Endal, a yellow Labrador part trained by Canine Partners. Since then, Allen’s confidence has returned to such an extent that he cannot stop talking about how much Endal has transformed his life. Endal has helped to save Allen’s marriage and to rebuild a relationship with his children. He has become independent and Sandra no longer has to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, allowing her the freedom and peace of mind to live her own life again.
Not only can Endal respond to over one hundred commands, he can also problem solve. One day when Allen was struggling to reach up to withdraw money from a cash point machine, Endal instinctively jumped up, took the money and card in his mouth and passed it to Allen. On another occasion, Endal demonstrated his ability to react in an emergency. When visiting Crufts 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.
Allen has been an incredible ambassador for Canine Partners. He is also a Trustee of the charity, working tirelessly to encourage publicity about Endal’s skill and the tremendous amount of work and dedication that goes into training other Canine Partners like him. Over 180 camera crews from all over the world have filmed Allen and Endal, articles about the duo too numerous to count up. Not being content with being the first dog to ‘fly’ the London Eye, Endal was also the first dog to fly in the cabin of a British Airways plane from Heathrow to Manchester which was filmed for the BBC Airport programme and will be aired very soon.
This amazing dog has unsurprisingly won several major awards for his amazing talents and devotion to duty. He was voted ‘Dog of the Millennium’ by readers of magazine Dogs Today, he was the overall winner of the Golden Bonio award 2002, voted assistance dog of the year 2001, 2002, 2003 and he has been uniquely given two human life saving awards. He also claims the ‘UK’s Coolest Canine’ amongst his titles and a prestigious Golden Bone award. He was awarded BBC Blue Peter’s highest honour, a Gold Blue Peter Badge and in August 2004, at the Wag and Bone show, he was presented with a unique ‘life time achievement award’ previously only given to humans. Though his award of the ‘PDSA Gold medal’, the peacetime version of Dickin 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 could barely say ‘hello’ a few years ago but now he is an eloquent speaker. His words express just how much Endal has turned his life around. ‘Endal never judges me or turns away because of my condition. His love is un-conditional and he is helping me become more tolerant in life. Every day we learn another way in which we can work together as a team. There seems to be no limits to what we can achieve together! Excitingly, we’re still in the process of filming a documentary ‘Allen and Endal – the movie! I guess you just can’t keep an old dog down – let alone two of us!’
Of this year’s appearance, Allen says ‘This year's Crufts has got to have been the best for Endal and me, not just because it was our 10th attendance, but because all the charities that we are involved with and that mean so much to me were under the one roof. Canine Partners of which I am a trustee, Labrador Rescue South East and Central of which Endal and I are Patrons, Dog Theft Action (now an official charity) as vice chairman and SSAFA whom have helped my family and me post Gulf War.
Sadly on Saturday Endal was slightly injured when a member of the public fell on to him, hurting his neck, however the stalwart Crufts veterinary team were on hand as always to check him over and he had a good snooze and some R & R in the press office.
Of the 11th Crufts, Allen says ‘We might make a one day visit, but four days really does take its toll on both of us. Endal left Crufts on Sunday afternoon with his head and tail raised high and a spring in his step!’
All their many fans will be looking forward to seeing them there next year!