Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hounds for Heroes trains puppies for injured soldiers

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Media captionThe puppies will be trained to open doors and use cash machines

Six Labrador puppies are being trained by a Hampshire charity as canine partners to help injured servicemen and women manage their daily tasks.

Hounds for Heroes runs a training centre near Petersfield where the dogs are being taught skills such as opening doors and using cash machines.

Once they have been trained, they will be partnered with injured military and emergency service personnel.

The charity was set up by veteran of the first Gulf War, Allen Parton.

Mr Parton's assistance dog Endal helped him recover from a serious head injury.

Image caption The puppies are being trained and socialised as they prepare to join their new owners

One of the dogs is named after Red Arrows pilot Flt Lt Jon Egging who died in a crash at the Bournemouth Air Festival in Dorset.

He died following a display which was raising money for Hounds for Heroes.

The puppies live with "puppy parents" who foster them and help to train and socialise them over the next few months.

Their specialist training begins when they join their eventual owners.

Christine Barrett, a volunteer helping to train the puppies, said: "It's very rewarding and obviously the first few months are the most difficult because that's when they're learning so much and so quickly.

'Saved my life'

Another volunteer Jane Chamberlain said: "You see it on the television all the time, these servicemen coming home and what they've been through and still have to go through - especially those with serious injuries.

"I don't think anywhere near enough is being done for them."

Mr Parton's injuries, suffered in a car crash while on service in 1991, left him partially paralysed with severe depression and amnesia. He could not even remember his wife and family.

Image caption Allen Parton set up Hounds for Heroes to train more assistance dogs

The chief petty officer credits Endal as a "wonderdog" who helped get his life back on track.

The pedigree Labrador helped with everything from the weekly shopping to getting his owner into the recovery position if he collapsed.

Endal died in 2009 but Mr Parton founded Hounds for Heroes in his memory.

Mr Parton said: "This is life-enabling. There are 900,000 people who could benefit from a dog and we're starting with six, but it doesn't stop here.

"To remind people, when those guns go quiet on the battlefield, the battles then with disability, trauma and bereavement are just beginning for so many.

"[Endal] brought me back to my wife and children in such a manner that, having lost memories of my wife, we got remarried five years ago. He saved my life."

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