Earlier this week Roger Helmer MEP, who represents the East Midlands regions, was invited to Champneys Springs Health Farm at Measham for a demonstration by the charity Canine Partners, and a presentation on their major new project, a new dog training centre at Fields Farm, Osgathorpe near Ashby-de-la-Zouche in Leicestershire.
Assistance dogs can be an essential part of life for people with serious disabilities and especially the wheel-chair-bound, as assistance dogs can perform a remarkable range of tasks.
Mr Helmer was introduced to Katie and her dog Byron. Katie has a condition which means that she sometimes falls, and has difficulty getting up. Her dog Byron is trained to respond first by alerting anyone nearby or retrieving a mobile phone. Byron is also trained to pull a blanket from the wheelchair to cover his owner.
Canine Partners also work with Help for Heroes, and some of the disabled people benefitting from the programme are soldiers who have lost limbs in Afghanistan. Canine Partners can currently train only around fifty dogs a year. Wit their new facility at Osgathorpe, they hope to double that, and could then help a hundred more disabled people every year. The new project is expected to cost around £3 million, so contributions will be welcome at www.caninepartners.org.uk.
Mr Helmer said after his visit:
“I was particularly impressed with today’s visit and was astonished to see the range of tasks the dogs are able to perform.
“This charity does incredibly work and needs all the support it can get.”