WELL, what a five-day marathon Crufts 2006 turned out to be for Gulf war veteran Allen Parton and his faithful hound Endal.
From the very moment Endal and Allen arrived to help set up the charity stand, they remained constantly on the go. Over the first two days they were followed by a film crew who recorded their every move - not only manning the Canine Partners stand but also launching National Pet Week, promoting Dog Theft Action, giving interviews and making various guest appearances throughout the show.
Endal, with his boundless energy, greeted all he met, young and old, with a wag of his otter-like tail and treated everyone like a long lost friend. "Where Endal gets his energy from is an unknown quantity," said Allen, "but Crufts brings out that something special in Endal and he just shines!".
|Endal loves to be pampered (what dog wouldn't?) and here he gets a cuddle from Crufts celebrity Shauna Lowry as well as from Allen.
Endal is now recognised by people from all around the globe and was constantly being asked to have his picture taken with his many fans whose Crufts visit would not have been complete without meeting Endal. In every picture Endal is at his best and he truly is becoming quite a phenomenon in the doggie world ... even the celebrities at Crufts wanted their picture taken with him, such is his fame.
"I sometimes get a cameo appearance in the pictures too" said Allen "but the real pleasure is in seeing so many people happy with the big guy that is so heart warming.
"At the end of each day we returned to our hotel room and collapsed on to our beds, feeling an honest tiredness after a day spent with doggie lovers and some very stunning canines. This year was our ninth crufts and each year it just seems to get better and better. I have yet to get around all the stalls and displays," said Allen, "but maybe one year we will take some slow time to potter around them all.
"Now we are back at home and catching up on the backlog of email. I once boasted," said Allen, "that Endal always promises to respond to every email and letter we receive. Because of my head injury I lost the ability to read and write in 1991 but thanks to Bill Gates' spell check Endal and I plod our way through the replies. Anyway, we were immensely touched and truly humbled to have received some emails from the folk we have met at Crufts waiting in the inbox. I am often heard to say this, but to wake up out of five-years in a haze and find myself with Endal at my side, my loving family at my shoulder and all in a world full of doggie lovers ... well life doesn't get any better than this!
"In February-March it was reported that Endal had been very ill but I can reassure everyone he is very much back to his normal annoying and naughty self. I won't lie and say it was an easy time because I felt so useless and unable to do anything to make him feel better. The guilt I felt knowing he has given me his all for nine years and when he looked to me to make him better couldn't wave that magic wand and make him well. I will though confess to shouting at him the other day, having made sure for weeks that what he ate was only top notch stuff and then to see him eating (aghhhhhhhh!!) cat's poo of all things! I give up, but it was reassuring to know he is back to normal self ...dogs ...who would have them?"
What of Crufts next year? "Well" says Allen, "we've booked our hotel room already and wouldn't it just be so amazing if Endal and I together attend Crufts for the 10th time? Not sure if that would set any new records! I guess though that it would be a very emotional homecoming and quite an achievement for us two old veterans. As much as Endal has become the people's dog , I guess that Crufts is in our blood too and it really is without doubt the best dog show in the world!"