The Giles Group meeting and talk on Monday 9th March included a presentation by Beverley from ‘Canine Partners’, which explained their work in providing and training dogs to help disabled people, primarily concentrating on people in wheelchairs or with restricted mobility. Beverley used a slide presentation to tell the stories surrounding some of the clients, or “partners” they have created over the last 20 years, which now number 250. The basic cost to provide and train a dog is typically £20,000, which is why fundraising support is needed, and really appreciated.
The dogs were shown to help open doors, fetch the remote control for TVs or phones, even put cards into cash machines, then remove the money and get the card out – something which was reported by a Telegraph reporter when he saw it happen in front of him at the cash machine queue! The dog there had not learned how to enter the PIN number, but no doubt Canine Partners are working on this! The dogs also delight in helping to take socks off, lift legs into the bed, or even can help to put skinny jeans onto the more fashion conscious partner!
Canine Partners were started in West Sussex, near Chichester. They have now spread further afield, with another base in Leicestershire. The website, with plenty of videos explaining some of the stories behind the dogs and people they have match-made, is on http://www.caninepartners.org.uk. More stories and examples are given on this website.
Everyone enjoyed the event and really appreciated the excellent presentation, which really gave a feel for how much the dog partnerships had helped the lives of some disabled people. Beverley also explained that there are many ways that people can help Canine Partners directly, in joining fund raising events, or in acting as weekend foster-parents for the younger dogs, during their training.
After the presentation, during the tea and cakes, Beverley was delighted to accept a donation totalling over £70 from the 26 members of the Alresford Giles Group who were present, which will be used to help the Canine Partners work.