Dogs for Good

Ken Heathcote and Piper.

Tango a new puppy recruit

On Tuesday, 20th November, members of our club were inspired greatly by our guest speaker, Ken Heathcote who is paralysed from the chest downwards and permanently in a wheel chair. Ken told us that he severed his spinal cord when he fell from a ladder over 20 years ago and was told he would never walk again. 

After much research contact was made to the charity, Dogs for Good, to see what help he could get. His first dog Petra was wonderful and helped so much and saved Ken’s wife hours a day because she was Ken’s only carer. When Petra became too old to work she was retired with a family who looked after retired work dogs.

Thankfully the charity provided Ken with another dog, Piper. It takes a while for a new dog to become acquainted with a new master. After eight weeks the puppy is taken from the mother and is socialised with a trained dog handler. Piper and Ken were soon inseparable and he continues to help Ken achieve so much with daily activities and is a wonderful, remarkable companion and member of the family.

It costs roughly £20,000 to train one dog to undertake the many tasks required. Generally, Labradors and Retrievers are the breeds preferred as they are very intelligent and have soft, gentle mouths which are important when picking up and holding delicate items. At our meeting Piper was given various tasks to perform such as removing items of clothing, picking up a pair of spectacles, fetching the phone and giving warning barks to Ken if he felt something was unsafe. Two of our members volunteered to give Piper instructions and this was very successful. 

The loyalty shown between Ken and Piper was remarkable, humbling and touching. We were all fascinated and moved to hear this amazing story of sadness, bravery and actual joy. Ken enjoys holidays abroad where he is keen to improve his great love of photography and Piper is always in prime position on the photographs. Many questions were asked by the members and Ken answered them in great detail. It was very apparent that everyone had learned a great deal from the presentation.

Celia Smallwood.

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Past News and Events

back Newark Castle Rotary members are enthusiastic, fun-loving and active volunteers who give their time and talents to serve communities both at home and overseas. If you have a community project that you think may be of interest please get in touch.