In 1991, Allen Parton was a member of the British Royal Navy serving in the Gulf War. He was in a car accident which rendered him disabled, confining him to a wheelchair. His memory was significantly damaged and he had difficulty navigating traffic, finding it hard to safely estimate the speed and distance of oncoming traffic. So it shouldn’t be surprising that later in life — 2001, specifically — Parton was involved in another car accident. This time, he wasn’t in a car, though — he was a pedestrian. He thrown to the ground, out of his wheelchair, and knocked unconscious. Parton would have been at risk for further injury, but a friend saved him. The friend dragged him to safety, positioned Parton in the recovery position, covered him in a blanket, and retrieved his cell phone. When Parton regained consciousness, his friend left — he went to the hospital to get help. Parton’s friend Endal was a hero.
And, a dog.
As in, a five year-old Labrador Retriever.
Endal was a trained service dog, who joined Allen Parton’s service in the late 1990s, and rose to fame within a few years. The 2001 heroics were just the beginning of Endal’s achievements. As the BBC reported, he was able to “pick goods off supermarket shelves, hand over money to bus drivers,” and could “put a cash card into any machine and get money out for his owner.” He could also help with the laundry, as the Daily Mail reported (with photo of that plus Endal’s ATM skills), and Parton credited the canine with saving his marriage.
In November of 2002, Endal was awarded the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Gold Medal, an award given to non-military animals in the UK which “assist in saving human or non-human animal life when his or her own life is in danger or through exceptional devotion to duty,” per Wikipedia. Only eighteen animals — all dogs — have received the award since its creation in 2001. He passed away in March of 2009, but not before mentoring a puppy — EJ, short for Endal Junior — in the art of being a service dog.
Bonus fact: Sometimes, signals which are designed to aid the disabled fail. For example, some crosswalks are outfitted with audible alerts that are aimed at helping the visually impaired determine when it is safe to cross, but unfortunately, they can sometimes be confusing. What if the pedestrian misunderstands the signal and instructs the dog to move into traffic? Many guide dogs will stop in their tracks: they’re trained to ignore directions they believe would put their owners in danger. Guide Dogs of America calls this trait “intelligent disobedience.”
From the Archives: A Dog’s Life: The story of a dog you’ve probably heard of.
Related: “Endal: How One Extraordinary Dog Brought a Family Back from the Brink,” by Allen Parton. A 320-page biography of the dog discussed above. Five stars on seven reviews.