The life-changing dog who has given a Hampshire man a future to look forward to
When his body began to shake uncontrollably, he knew what that meant...
Both Alan Edbrooke’s dad and grandad had both had Parkinson’s disease so he recognised the symptoms.
He gave up his job as an IT manager in 2004 as the condition was causing agoraphobia and he was having panic attacks when he was away from home.
Within a few years he was rarely going outdoors as he was frightened of leaving the house.
And he was living with debilitating pain through his back caused by his muscles tensing up to deal with the regular shaking which Parkinson’s is known for.
But life got a little easier when Alan met Hamlin.
The affectionate golden retriever has been trained by charity Canine Partners which provides amazing assistance dogs that transform the lives of disabled people.
Now the two are inseparable and Alan looks forward to going out with his four-legged best friend.
And as well as boosting Alan’s confidence and self-esteem, Hamlin opens doors, helps with the washing machine and helps Alan put on and take off his shoes when he is unable to bend down due to his back pain.
He also picks up anything Alan drops.
The 48-year-old who lives in Kingsley in Bordon, Hampshire, with his wife Janine, said: “It was love at first sight.
“It’s incredible the difference he’s made. You can’t measure it.
“I get up in the morning and I look forward to seeing Hamlin, where as I used to just stay in bed.
“Hamlin goes everywhere with me – even to the gym. He comes to Pilates which is excellent for my back and everyone loves him in there.
“As soon as I move in the morning Hamlin’s there ready to help.
“One of the most important things Hamlin does is he gives me a constant point of reference by my side while we’re walking. When you have Parkinson’s, stumbling and falling can be reduced with visual cues, like having a dog walking gently by your side. He keeps me going straight when we’re out and about.
“Hamlin has given me the confidence to go back into the outside world. He has given me a future.
“He has made me happier being me.”
Alan and Hamlin are one of Canine Partners’ 383 partnerships that are currently active.
Each partnership costs the charity £20,000 to create. But the charity receives no government funding so relies on sponsorship and donations from members of the public to continue training its amazing dogs.
It also hosts a calendar of events every year including its upcoming Pedal for Paws cycling challenge which last year saw more than 100 cyclists pedal across the South Downs National Park, raising more than £4,000.
For more information about Canine Partners, future events or details on how to help, call 08456 580 480 or visit the Canine Partners website.