There’s a reason dogs have earned the reputation of “man’s best friend.” They are unfailingly loving and loyal, even when they are not shown the same love and loyalty in return. When we are down they want to cheer us up, when we are in danger they are by our sides ready to do what it takes to keep us safe.
We have heard many stories of heroic dogs doing amazing things, but if there was a Man’s Best Friend winner, Endal might just take home the prize.
When the Labrador retriever was born, it was soon discovered that he suffered from a lifelong debilitating joint condition called osteochondrosis in both of his front legs. While this put his suitability to be a service dog into question, his high intelligence and problem-solving abilities allowed him to qualify.
Endal became the service dog for Allen Parton, a former member of the British Royal Navy who served in the Gulf War.
Parton was in a car accident that rendered him disabled and confined him to a wheelchair. He also lost about 50 percent of his memory and had difficulty making new memories. For a while, he was even unable to speak.
Endal quickly filled in the gaps for Parton. He could retrieve items Parton needed based off of simple signals. For example, if Parton touched his face, Endal knew to grab his razor.
The intelligent dog also learned how to pull items off the shelves at supermarkets, help with the laundry, and use an ATM. He even learned how to pull the plug in the bath if Parton fell unconscious and then use the phone to call for help!
But it was one heroic moment in particular that really shot Endal to fame.
One day while they were out, Parton was hit by a car. The force of the hit threw him out of his wheelchair and knocked him unconscious.
Emergency personnel who later arrived at the scene said Parton would have been at risk for much worse injuries had Endal not been there.
The heroic dog dragged Parton to safety and positioned him into the recovery position. He found Parton’s cell phone and pushed it into his hand, retrieved a blanket from under the wheelchair and laid it over Parton, and then ran to a nearby hotel and barked until someone came to help.
Because of Endal’s heroic actions that day, Parton’s life was spared.
In November 2002, Endal was awarded the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Gold Medal which is given to non-military animals in the U.K. who “assist in saving human or non-human animal life when his or her own life is in danger or through exceptional devotion to duty.” Only 18 animals – all dogs – have received this award since its creation in 2001.
Endal’s heroism and subsequent fame led to him being an ambassador for service dog-related training and charities.
Sadly, in 2009, Endal passed away at the age of 13 after suffering a stroke. He is buried at Ilford PDSA Animal Cemetery along with many of the other dogs who were also awarded the prestigious PDSA medal.
Though Endal is no longer with us, his bravery and heroism will not be forgotten and his legacy will live on.
In the final nine months of his life, Endal helped mentor a Labrador puppy named Endal Junior (or EJ for short). While EJ has some pretty big shoes to fill, he is carrying on Endal’s legacy in a way we’re sure would make his predecessor proud.
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