Yesterday evening I was photographing at a charity dinner-dance in Portsmouth. It was lovely to see everyone dressed up in their best frocks and we got some great photos, but my favourite has to be this one of Zebedee.
Zebedee is a demonstration dog for Canine Partners, the charity the evening was in aid of.
Canine Partners train dogs to be helpers and companions for physically disabled people. They aim to give people a degree of independence that they could not achieve otherwise. Training starts early on with puppies learning to be around people and doing simple tasks. When fully trained they are able to help with many of the jobs that people would find difficult, if not impossible, on their own.
With his trainer Glenis, Zebedee gave an amazing demonstration of the things he can do. Starting with simple retrieval tasks like picking up a dropped crutch, phone or purse he progressed to picking up a credit card and even coins from the floor. Very impressive given that it was a smooth wooden floor!
They then showed how he could open and close cupboards and a washing machine, retrieving items from within. Next, they demonstrated how he could press buttons and pull cords, even managing to press just the red button from a row of coloured buttons. These skills are useful for raising an alarm.
For some reason I had older people in mind as I watched, but Glenis reminded us that the young often need help like this too. Human carers usually stop work by 9 in the evening, meaning that often those who they help have to be in bed before that. As Glenis said, imagine being 21 and wanting to go out with friends, not many carers would be prepared to come out at 2am to help them get undressed and in to bed. So this is another area that the dogs are trained to help with and they showed how Zebedee could pull socks off, undo zips and undress their charges.
It was an amazing demonstration and one thing I noticed throughout was how happy Zebedee seemed. His tail never stopped wagging and he was constantly looking at Glenis to see what fun thing she had for him to do next.