Sunday, 12 March 2017

Top Dogs!!

Another enjoyable day at Crufts, and congratulations to the American Cocker Spaniel, Miami Ink for taking Best in Show. But Crufts isn't all about winning, and today the Words & Images UK team of Rob and Ann particularly wanted to concentrate on some of the charities and organisations that see wonderful partnerships between dogs and people.

One of the best known charities is Guide Dogs for the Blind. They were out in force encouraging visitors to sponsor a guide dog puppy. A spokesperson pointed out that every single hour someone in the UK loses their sight. And the cost of a guide dog from birth throughout its life amounts to £55,000. That money comes from the generosity of the public through fundraising, legacies, sponsoring etc., so our continued support is vital.

In January of this year, Guide Dogs fully integrated with the charity Blind Children UK, so that they can build on existing services and support more children with sight loss. Visit their website to learn more of their work – and perhaps sponsor a guide dog puppy.

Guide dog brood bitch, Tess.

So how well behaved, well mannered, calm and friendly is your pet? Perhaps your dog could become a Pets as Therapy (PAT) Dog. Volunteers work with their own pets to bring joy, comfort and companionship to others in need. Pets as Therapy volunteers go into residential homes, schools, hospitals, hospices, day care centres and prisons, allowing individuals to stroke and touch them.

PAT Dog Lulu and Nadine Waghorn

Nadine Waghorn's three-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog, Lulu has been a PAT Dog for the last year. She said: “Lulu has such a lovely nature. We mainly go into homes for the elderly and she makes such a different to their lives. Even individuals who rarely come out of their rooms will come out when they know a dog is coming.”

Angie Seedhouse and PAT Dog Sausage.

Angie Seedhouse's Staffi, 9-year old, Sausage, has been a PAT Dog for 4 years. “He loved doing this straight away,” said Angie. “We have to go around a lot of people and he judges the length of time spent with each person. He decides when it's time to move on. But he will stay with someone for longer time if he thinks they need it – if he hasn't got a smile out of them. He also senses when someone has been ill and gives them extra time and cheers them up!”

Sausage's intelligent and kindly nature has not gone unnoticed, as he was awarded Hi-Life PAT Dog of the Year in the Crufts arena. So no doubt an extra sausage in Sausage's bowl when he got home!

Cate Archer and Doug the Pug Therapy Dog

Doug the Pug Therapy Dog was attracting lots of attention looking very cute sitting in a basket, proudly displaying his 'Most Heroic Hound' award rosette, from the Super Dogs Live tour at the National Pet Show last year. But apart from looking cute he'd also had a book written about him. His owner, Cate Archer has written a book highlighting the joys of the human/animal bond based on Doug's working life as a PAT Dog. All royalties from every book sold go directly to Pets as Therapy. Learn more:  And more on Doug's book at:

Support Dogs

Support Dogs is a national charity dedicated to training assistance dogs to transform the lives of people with epilepsy, physical disabilities and children with autism. The charity celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Like most of our national charities they too rely on the generosity of the public to continue their work.

Support Dogs is the only organisation in the UK to train Seizure Alert Dogs. They are trained to give up to a 50 minute warning prior to an oncoming seizure, so that person can prepare for the seizure and so avoid injury. Also, the very fact that the person knows they won't be taken by surprise by a sudden seizure has shown to increase their independence and reduce seizure frequencies – and of course can be life saving.

The charity also provide safety and companionship for children with autism, bringing more independence for the child and the family. Having an Autism Assistance Dog in the family has shown to reduce stress in the family, promote positive chances in behaviour, provide comfort for the child when upset, and enhance verbal communication.

Support Dog, Oscar.

For people with physical disabilities, Support Dogs work to improve their quality of life and independence by training their own pet dog as a Disability Assistance Dog. Each dog is specifically trained to help its owner with their individual needs. In general they are trained to pick up dropped objects, to help the person get in and out of bed and to get dressed and undressed; they're able to operate control buttons, load and unload the washing machine, open and close doors and raise the alarm if their owner is in difficulties.

We chatted to Wendy Martin who has disc degeneration and fibromyalgia. Talking about her Support Dog, Oscar, she said: “He's my second Support Dog and he's nine and a half now. He gets me out of bed, fetches the phone and the mail, he puts washing in the washing machine, picks things up that I drop. He's made such a difference to my life. I don't know how I would manage without him.” When the time comes for Oscar to retire, he'll be spending more time relaxing on Wendy's sofa, while a new Support Dog will be assisting her with her everyday tasks. 

Support Dog, Baby, just chilling!

Kathy Wylde's Support Dog, a lovely King Charles Spaniel named Baby was her own pet to begin with. As a double amputee, and confined to a wheelchair, Kathy relies on Baby a great deal. And in addition to the tasks mentioned, Baby also provides Kathy with a little extra TLC.

Kathy said: “I suffer from phantom limb pain, and Baby senses when I'm in pain, and comes and sits on my lap, allowing the warmth of her body to ease my pain. It's just something she does of her own accord, it's not something she's been trained to do.”
Discover more about Support Dogs:

Dog handler, Julie Hargreaves with Emma

Retired Police Dogs Benevolent Funds are schemes set up to help with the cost of on-going care and treatment for retired police dogs to ensure they have a healthy and happy life in retirement. Police dogs undergo years of vigorous training and work hard making sure we stay safe. As they grow older, as well as suffering from the usual ailments associated with age, but quite possibly arthritis, hip and knee injuries, torn ligaments and spinal problems.

In retirement they may need operations, blood tests, x-rays, hydrotherapy and other treatments, so the Benevolent Funds will be to help the retired dog's owner, whether that's its handler still, or a kind hearted new owner. The fund will ensure the owner can afford this treatment and help the dog have a well deserved happy and healthy retirement.

Officers from the West Midlands and the Staffordshire Police were talking to the public at Crufts. So we spoke to Julie Hargreaves, a dog handler for the Staffordshire Police. Julie has two police dogs, Razor a 7-year-old German Shepherd who is a general purpose police dog and 4-year-old Labrador, Emma, a drugs and firearms recovery dog.
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Julie said: “When the dogs retire usually the handler keeps them, or at least they get first refusal. If they aren't able to keep the dog as their pet, then there's a waiting list of people wanting a former police dog.”

Enjoy more of our photos taken at Crufts.

Lisa with Gracie and Finn

Iwan Thomas MBE enjoying Crufts.

Argo, a 8 and a half month Akita puppy
Won Minor Puppy class.

Ann testing Eurotherapy treatment pain relief for
dogs, horses and writers!

Regan, a 1-year-old Australian Shepherd dog

Australian Shepherd dog, Emily, aged 15 months

So well done to the Kennel Club for organising another great Crufts Show! Additional news and information at:

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