These special hounds are ready to save other lives

Allen Parton with Hounds  for Heroes
Allen Parton with Hounds for Heroes
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Last week I met a man who made me cry.

There he was, chatting away in one of the offices where I work, while I was struggling not to sniff too loudly and draw attention to the tears tracking down my cheeks.

It’s been proven these dogs change lives and what Allen needs is for more people to realise they’re ready, willing and able to do just that.

That man was Allen Parton, founder of Hounds For Heroes, and he was telling the story of how his life and humanity was saved by a dog called Endal.

Endal is famous for being the first dog to learn how to use a cash machine.

During his life with Allen he became well-known to readers of The News as being the poster dog for Allen’s charity.

I’ve read about how Endal put the jigsaw puzzles of Allen’s life back together, helping him to feel emotion again – the final emotion being grief following Endal’s death.

I’ve read and seen a fair amount of Hounds for Heroes coverage, but I didn’t appreciate until last week just how vital these dogs can be for people who have been injured during the course of public service, either at home or abroad.

To hear Allen’s story of how he tried to kill himself, twice, rather than face the life he thought he was going to have – unable to walk, speak, interact, emote or remember most of what had gone before – until he was saved by a mischievous labrador who made Allen his special friend is truly moving.

But what Allen needs for the charity’s dogs isn’t necessarily funding.

No, what he needs is awareness. He needs people to know that his special hounds are being trained ready to save other lives.

We’ve seen in the Invictus games and the Paralympics that humans are capable of almost anything.

But for the times they can’t quite manage it, there are a legion of dogs – a cadet corps of puppies – just waiting to give a helping paw when it’s needed the most, whether it’s for the Army, Royal Navy, RAF or one of the emergency services.

It’s been proven these dogs change lives and what Allen needs is for more people to realise they’re ready, willing and able to do just that.

To find out more, see houndsforheroes.com.

IT WAS FANTASTIC TO FINALLY BE ABLE TO SMELL THE MARY ROSE

I was lucky enough last week to be invited into the Mary Rose Museum, ostensibly for a meeting, but with the added benefit of a mini-tour of the new facility.

I can’t believe how much it’s changed.

From the first time I went as a schoolgirl, clamouring to get a view through resin-smeared glass, to taking my former husband there years later and then being lucky enough to visit when it re-opened a few years ago, the Mary Rose has been slowly revealing her treasures.

And last week for the first time I was able to smell her.

That sounds a bit weird but, after years of only being able to stare at her through glass, I hope you know what I mean.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to go and visit, please do. It’s well worth it.

HAVING A GREAT TIME IS WHAT FRESHERS’ WEEK IS ALL ABOUT

Can you believe those pictures of Portsmouth’s Freshers’ Week that aced the newspapers last week?

No, nor can I.

The thing is, most of the scantily-clad ladies in the photos were promo girls paid to tempt students into their premises, so to speak.

Other pictures included a girl sitting down, a couple of people astride a Guildhall lion (well you would, wouldn’t you?) and the ubiquitous girl-on-the-floor photo.

It could be anywhere.

Portsmouth doesn’t have a particular problem with rowdy behaviour, certainly not compared to hen and stag do destinations like Cardiff or Bournemouth.

The vast majority will have a great time during these first weeks, making lifelong friends. And that’s what Freshers’ Week is all about.