Canine Partners is a registered charity that assists people with disabilities to enjoy a greater independence and quality of life through the provision of specially trained dogs, whose well-being is a key consideration.
The Charity is working closely with the uniformed services to provide assistance dogs to those injured while on active duty.
More than 1.2 million people in the UK use a wheelchair, and a significant number of those would benefit from a canine partner. The dogs are carefully matched to the applicant’s needs and lifestyle, no matter how challenging. They are trained to help with everyday tasks such as opening and shutting doors, unloading the washing machine, picking up dropped items, pressing buttons and switches and getting help in an emergency. The Charity aims to train dogs to meet the needs of people with even the most complex disabilities including members of HM Armed Forces, and is working closely with the Forces charity Help for Heroes who have funded several partnerships of injured ex-servicemen and women with canine partners.
It takes between 15-18 months to train a canine partner from selection at eight weeks old through puppy training and advanced training until they are partnered with a person with disabilities. Each partnership has regular visits from the Charity’s aftercare assistants and support and advice are available 24 hours a day. There are twelve puppy training satellites around Great Britain where the pups are looked after by volunteers under the watchful eye of a Canine Partners’ trainer, and during which time they learn obedience and some early tasks. They then come into the Charity’s training centre in Heyshott, West Sussex for five months to learn the advanced taskwork and to be matched with their future owner.
These life transforming dogs also provide practical, physiological, psychological and social benefits including increased independence and confidence as well as increased motivation and self-esteem. A canine partner also brings companionship, a sense of security and increases social interaction.
Canine Partners receives no government funding and relies solely on public donations. For further information visit www.caninepartners.org.uk or phone 08456 580480.