Adorable Isle of Wight trained canine partner Herbie has been given an official role as The First Dog of Worthing – and he has already been meeting celebrities as part of his new duties.
The five-year-old Labradoodle, who was trained by the national assistance dog charity on the Island, now attends formal functions and accompanies the Lady Mayoress of Worthing, Norah Fisher, to her official functions.
And the laidback chap has already met four times Paralympic Champion and five world swimming record holder Ellie Simmonds at the opening of a new pool in the town.
The Paralympic superstar stopped to spend time with Norah and Herbie as he played his part in the town’s civic life.
Herbie was partnered with Norah, from Tarring in Worthing, in December 2009 and they are inseparable. Norah, who suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, has been a local councillor in the town for many years.
But the Island of Wight based charity needs volunteers who would be willing to train a pup ready for the role of a lifetime, in just the same way Herbie was trained on the Island.
Isle of Wight Satellite Co-ordinator Deborah Flux added:
“We are very lucky with the volunteers that we have but we desperately need people who would be willing to give a pup a home and help us train the next generation of assistance dogs.”
Herbie’s latest foray into public life has made history in West Sussex and is possibly the most fun for Herbie, and Norah. He even has hit own twitter page to give an insight into his life as the First Dog of Worthing.
“We’re having a wonderful time. Herbie is now the Mayor’s Cadet and wears a badge of honour and even has his own twitter. Herbie always gets the biggest applause wherever we go.
“Herbie, the Mayor and me (yes, that’s the right order where Herbie’s concerned!) go to all sorts of functions. We opened National Volunteers Day, went to a 100th birthday party and attended a big evening event. As Herbie’s a bit of a poser, he loves being photographed at these events.”
Herbie’s success from his fantastic early start on the Isle of Wight isn’t isolated. Canine partners Heathcliffe and Humphrey have made great progress since they began training on the Island and are currently in advanced training at the Charity’s flagship training centre near Midhurst, West Sussex.
Vicky Martin, Advanced Training team leader, said: “Both Heathcliffe and Humphrey have settled in really well at the centre. It’s been great to watch them develop their skills in readiness for the next step, meeting their partner and helping with everyday tasks.”
Canine Partners is a national charity that trains assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities including civilians and members of HM Armed Forces.
The dogs are trained to help with daily activities such as opening and closing doors, unloading the washing machine, picking up dropped items, pressing buttons and switches and getting help in an emergency.
The Isle of Wight satellite is being supported by The Southern Co-op who has donated a £600 gazebo to help with fundraising activities on the Island while Barclaycard have sponsored pups Heathcliffe and Humphrey through their training.
Please contact Deborah at [email protected] for more information about how to volunteer to be a puppy parent and learn how to train a dog just like Herbie.
Photo: John Young