Canine Partners

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My second charity tea towel is from Canine Partners; there is probably nothing farther from Cure Brain Cancer Foundation (Australia) than Canine Partners based near Osgathorpe except that they both use a tea towel to raise money for the work they do and both have interesting stories behind their tea towels.

With a strap line of  “Amazing Dogs. Transforming Lives”, Canine Partners ‘does what it says on the tin’.  “Our vision is for a day when every disabled person in the UK has the opportunity to be partnered with one of our amazing Assitance Dogs”.  Canine Partners receives no government funding and relies on public donations and legacies.  Canine Partners began in 1990, training assistance dogs to meet the needs of individuals with complex physical impairments including those discharged from the armed forces, helping with everyday tasks like picking up dropped items, unloading the washing machine, pressing buttons and switches, fetching help in the event of an emergency.  Assistance dogs provide social benefits like increasing independence , confidence and self-esteem.  The reality is that it takes 20-24 months to train an assistance dog and each partnership costs £20,000 from the selection of a puppy until the dog retires after 12 years.  That is £4.56 a day.  One of the ways in which Canine Partners raises money is through it’s online shop which has been going for five years.  Pat tells the story of how the tea towel came about: “My husband had a severe stroke 16 years ago, leaving him with several disabilities.  Life was very black for several years following this, dealing with all his conditions, until we heard about Canine partners.  Eventually, a wonderful dog, a black Labrador, came into our lives, to save my husband’ s life and give me back mine.  Our Canine Partner, Yukon, was a saviour and our beloved friend.  The difference in my husband was tremendous and I wanted to give something back to this wonderful charity.”

“Living in a village with many dogs, I came up with the idea of trying to raise enough money for Canine Partners to buy another puppy.  So I asked all the doggies in the village for their paw prints!!  Yukon’s paw print is in the bottom right hand corner of the tea towel.  It was hilarious trying to get them, as you can imagine.  This quirky idea spread like wildfire and even two dogs who had emigrated wanted their paws on the tea towel.  You will see one in Australia and one in USA, both faxed over (very clever dogs, I say).  My lovely friends in the village were thrilled to assist as they could see the difference Yukon made to two lives.  With the help of a friend, keen on design, we put it together….. doggie biscuits on the photocopier!!  Those were the days!!  Dame Judi Dench lives in our village and even her doggie is on it”.

“The print had to be purple because of the (corporate) colour of the charity.  The original tea towel had the title ‘Canine Pals of Outwoods helping….’.  It sold like hot cakes and went all over the world as Christmas presents etc.  The furthest it went was Patagonia!  I had to keep re-ordering them.  But I was insistent that they were packaged nicely with an information leaflet about the charity”.

“Forever the teacher, I then designed a Fun Quiz to be sold with the tea towel; the questions were based on the names of the dogs e.g. ‘Which dog won’t sit still?’ (Fidget).  Fun for children and adults around a table.  Canine Partners were very soon able to buy a puppy from the original proceeds of £800.”

“Canine Partners then asked me if they could use the tea towel to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary and take away the ‘Outwoods’ heading.  Of course, I was delighted and they now carry on with it.  It is sold all over the UK at Canine Partners events and they have it on their website.  I am so thrilled.  I have even given one to Prince Harry when he visited Canine Partners HQ and I challenged him to do the quiz.  He assured me that he does the washing up and he laughed when I told him the story of how some of the dogs reacted to putting their paws on paper.  We have a lovely photo of Prince Harry accepting the tea towel”.

“I use all the original paw prints to hang on the Canine Partners Christmas Tree at the local church Tree Festival and to some dear friends, who have said goodbye to their dogs, I have given them back their paw prints.  This funny idea has now raised thousands of pounds and is a best seller at all Canine Partner events”.

That is a really great story about the ‘birth’ of a charity tea towel; a simple idea from someone who benefitted from the charity and who wanted to give something back.  It’s not flashy or glamorous but is something that is not costly and will appeal to lots of people because, after all, we all use a tea towel.  Thank you Pat for spending some of your time sharing that story.  But do I believe that Prince Harry does the washing up?  I’m not sure but I would like to believe it!

If you want to support Canine Partners go to http://www.caninepartners.org.uk and find their tea towel under Shop.

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