Puppy love from charity fund

Laura Loftus with demonstration dog OJ. Picture by Darren Andrews.
Laura Loftus with demonstration dog OJ. Picture by Darren Andrews.
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An assistance dog charity has raised vital funds to train up a new puppy by holding a carol service.

Canine Partners North West, who match assistance dogs to people with disabilities, raised over £23,000 to support a working dog from puppyhood to retirement.

Taking place at Lancaster Priory, the service featured readings by the High Sheriff of Lancashire, the Mayor of Lancaster and local actress Christine Mackie, as well as a demonstration by the Canine Partners Demonstration Team.

Organiser Sarah Cleaver said: “I am thrilled to announce that the Canine Partners North West Carol Service has raised over £23,000 thanks to overwhelming local support and sponsorship.

“In recognition of the local support, Canine Partners will name the new puppy Lancaster.”

From puppyhood through to retirement, the charity needs around £20,000 per dog.

Assistance dogs transform the lives of people with disabilities and help boost their confidence and independence.

Natalie Preston was given her canine partner, Faye, in July 2013 and gave a heart-warming talk on how their partnership has transformed her life.

She said: “I was born with cerebral palsy and when I was diagnosed the doctors told my parents there was no hope for me.

“It is thanks to Faye that I have a life and a future to look forward to, I wake up every morning with a smile on my face knowing my best friend is always there by my side ready to help no matter what.”

The dogs are taught a range of everyday tasks like fetching items, opening doors and undressing a person.

They can even help to load and unload a washing machine and fetch help in an emergency.

Cat Howourth, events fundraiser for Canine Partners, said: “We wanted to light Lancaster up purple, which is the charity brand colour, and the Priory was the perfect place to do it, especially for a Christmas carol service.

“It is the best time to bring people together.”

The charity also works alongside Help for Heroes so it can train dogs to meet the needs of people with even the most complex disabilities including members of HM Armed Forces.

Visit caninepartners.org.uk for more information.