On the 13th of March, Allen Parton held a meet and greet at Centerprise’s Hampshire HQ. Lasting just over an hour, he described in detail his incredible journey, from Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer to charity founder, and how it all can be attributed to... a dog.
Allen Parton was a Chief Petty Officer serving in the Royal Navy in the Gulf War when in 1991 a severe accident altered his life entirely. Allen suffered a drastic head injury which left him many ailments, he could no longer walk or talk. To make matters worse, he had no memory of marrying his wife or the birth of his two children, and had no sense of emotion. He spent the next five years in Headley hospital being treated, but with little progress.
Then by chance along came Endal, a yellow Labrador assistance dog. Their meeting seemed destined as Mr. Parton’s usual daycare bus failed to turn up, so Allen accompanied his wife to her volunteer role working with assistance dogs, where he met Endal. They formed such a bond that in time, Allen’s speech and motor skills returned and he was able to salvage his marriage and become a father to his children. “He dragged me out from that terrible pit of despair I’d been in and gave me a new lease of life,” Said Mr. Parton.
Endal could respond to over one hundred commands and became somewhat of an innovator for assistance dogs, breaking the mould with his capabilities, such as being able to operate a cash machine. On one fateful day in 2001, Allen was involved in a hit and run and was left unconscious in a car park. Endal shuffled Allen into the recovery position, covered him with a blanket, and fetched his mobile phone, before heading to a nearby hotel and raising the alarm. A feat so amazing, the FBI began studying the footage.
Unfortunately, on the 13th of March 2009, an aging Endal passed away. This prompted Mr. Parton to form Hounds of Heroes, to aid ex-servicemen and women in need, and to give them a better quality of life like Endal did for him. “My dog changed my life, he became my best friend and took me along this wonderful journey all over the world. I wanted other injured soldiers to have the chance.” Explained Mr. Parton. He continued, “we rely strictly on donations and word-of-mouth so, please, the best way to help us is to just get our name out there. Help us reach as many people as possible.”
Hounds for Heroes fully funds the whole life of their dogs, relieving any financial burden on the ex-service personnel to whom they are partnered. From their Headquarters near Petersfield in Hampshire, they are able to provide a nationwide service all over the UK. They have a small staff who run the Charity, train the dogs and process applications from those whose lives might be improved if partnered with an Assistance Dog.
Training a dog can take up to 24 months; meanwhile, the important task of processing applications, so that all applicants’ capabilities and needs are properly understood, takes place. These parallel processes culminate in a Residential Training Course when everything is finally checked before the partnership of Hero and Hound commences.
Centerprise and Hounds for Heroes have a long relationship. In 2014, Ci employees generated funds for the charity to assist in the cost for a new cadet, a Golden Retriever, named by Ci employees as Sergeant. “It’s taken many years as we wanted to find a dog that looked like Sergeant to us. He’s caring, nurturing and all the things that remind us of Centerprise.” Said, Virginia Campbell, the charity manager.