On stage they say ‘don’t work with children and animals!’ but this certainly wasn’t a problem for the team from CANINE PARTNERS. At the end of the evening the question was ‘who would you like to take home?’ ’ Zebedee or Mango? No! I didn’t mean the very witty Malcolm Wells MBE, although he and his assistant Glenys both charmed us with this highly entertaining talk. Amid much tail wagging, the six month old Mango showed off his basic skills of fetching and obedience. The hardest task for any dog is to walk backwards (a skill needed for several tasks around the home) but we learnt that playfully ‘tugging’ an object with a dog helps them to start doing this action in a natural way. Then came the veteran Zebedee who amazed us with his repertoire of loading a washing machine, pretending to turn it on, removing gloves, hat, a zipped jacket, shoes and socks from a person sat in a wheelchair and picking up small coins and a credit card from the floor! Assistance dogs can even get people out of bed, turn lights on and off and always close the door behind them…
Canine Partners was founded in 1990 with the aim to train assistance dogs to transform the lives of people with disabilities. Malcolm explained it was all about opening doors to independence for people with disabilities, increasing their quality of life and helping them not to feel a burden on their loved ones. They currently have the capacity to partner 40 people a year with their dogs but have 100 on a waiting list. At a cost of £20K needed to train and support each partnership for life; with no government funding, their finances rely on the generous support of individuals, companies, clubs and societies. Of course, vital to their work is the support of many volunteers. So if you think you would like to help in any way or even be a ‘puppy parent’ see their website (caninepartners.org.uk) or visit them at Midhurst where groups are welcomed and entertained.
Coming up: our members Christmas dinner and in January on the second Tuesday as ever, a demonstration on how to transform a Christmas card into a beautiful sturdy box (ideal container for little Easter eggs) so please do keep your cards for this event! All are welcome.
By Wendy Ingamells