FUN DAY WITH DOGS FOR THE DISABLED
By Ann Evans
Photos: Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography.
It was fun for all the family – and the dog, when Dogs for the Disabled held their annual Fun Day at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire in July.
The free event which was open to the general public proved to be the perfect opportunity for people to learn more about the amazing work of the Banbury-based charity, and to see some of the incredible life changing partnerships created thanks to their efforts over the last 27 years – as well as enjoying some some good family fun!
Blessed with a dry and sunny day, there was lots of activities to watch and join in with including a Fun Dog Show and an agility course; Heel and Wheel Work to Music; the charity itself staged demonstrations to show how the dogs can assist a disabled person. There was a police dog demonstration, a ‘Have a Go’ disability sports zone where you could try your hand at basketball, archery and fencings; the Zoo Bus, a craft fair, wine tasting, music from the Spa Strummers Ukulele Band and lots more.
A highlight of the afternoon was an RAF fly past by a WW2 Spitfire, staged by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Coningsby, Lincolnshire. With background music of Dame Vera Lyn playing We’ll Meet Again, as the plane flew dramatically overhead – making three fly pasts in all to the appreciative crowds, it was a spine-tingling moment for many.
Annie Davies was one of the many recipients of a dog from the charity. Annie has had Lucy, a five year old black Labrador for three years and she has made a huge difference to her life, allowing her to live as a confident independent young woman. “Lucy is very intuitive and a lot of the time she knows what I want without me even saying anything. She’s also very cheeky with it! For example if she’s ready for bed and I’m not, she will start undressing me! She’s made a massive difference to my life and I wouldn’t be without her.”
The day was the perfect opportunity for Dogs for the Disabled recipients to meet up, along with puppy socialisers – some of whom were able to say hello again to the now working dog, that they initially took care of in the very early days of the dog’s working life.
We chatted to Judy Lunt, puppy socialiser who was with her second dog for the charity, Duck Tolling Retriever, Yendal. Judy said, “I’ve always had dogs, and always trained puppies. Now I’m getting older I didn’t think it fair to have another puppy, so decided to become a puppy socialiser for Dogs for the Disabled. It’s so worthwhile although it’s horrible when you have to give them back. But you get over this, and you know the work they are going on to do is wonderful.”
The charity has trained well over 700 Assistance Dogs and currently has more than 300 working with adults and children with disabilities in England and Wales. It was also the first charity to train an Autism Assistance Dog and there are currently 60 working with families with a child with autism.
Peter Gorbing, Chief Executive for Dogs for the Disabled was kept busy – as were the staff, meeting up with so many familiar faces on the day. He said, “We have the Fun Day to allow people to come along and learn about the charity. It’s really nice to see so many members of the public finding out about the charity. There’s lots of people, lots of activities, something for everyone.
“These are exciting times for Dogs for the Disabled. We are growing and working with a lot more people and bringing the services to a lot more people.”
The event coincided with the announcement of the charity changing its name and identity. From 15th October 2015, Dogs for the Disabled will become Dogs for Good. We will be bringing you more on this in October.
YOU CAN HELP
Dogs for the Disabled relies on the support and generosity of the general public to continue its amazing work. There are many ways you can help. Such as:
- Sign up to one of Dogs for the Disabled events or organise your own.
- Choose to support Dogs for the Disabled as an individual, with friends, or through your work.
- Fundraise for the charity.
- Become a puppy socialiser providing a home for a puppy for the first year of its life, giving it all the experiences so it can start off on the road to becoming a life-changing dog for a disabled person.
- Become a temporary boarder – someone who could offer a temporary place in their home for a dog in training.
- Make a donation.
To find out more please visit: www.dogsforthedisabled.org