In 1991, Allen Parton was a Chief Petty Officer serving in the Royal Navy in the Gulf. He had a very promising military career ahead of him and a wife and two children at home in Portsmouth. Then a tragic operational incident 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, Allen was partnered with Endal, a yellow Labrador assistance dog. Allen’s confidence returned to such an extent that he could not stop talking about how much Endal transformed his life. Endal helped to save Allen’s marriage and helped to rebuild a relationship with his children. Allen’s independence means Sandra no longer has to be on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, allowing her the freedom and peace of mind to live her own life again.
Endal could respond to over one hundred commands and could 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 nearby hotel and raised the alarm.
This amazing partnership inspired Allen to think about setting up a new charity to help the disabled members of the Armed Forces and Emergency Services. Allen says:
It has been a dream of mine to have a charity that works specifically for these people who routinely put their lives in danger. Hounds for Heroes is our chance of giving people the same chances that I have had. We owe them a great debt and this is our way of saying thank you.
Sadly Endal died in Spring 2009 but the partnership keeps going and Allen is pictured above with EJ (Endal Junior) who is the first dog to be trained under the auspices of Hounds for Heroes.