Guide Dogs: Dual Assistance Dog wins major honour
A national award has been won by an assistance dog jointly trained by Sheffield-based charity, Support Dogs, and Guide Dogs.
Hetty, a black Labrador cross, won the Guardian Angel category in the first ever ITV British Animal Honours awards, broadcasted on ITV on Thursday, 18 April.
The category was aimed at a trained assistance animal who has transformed the life of an individual through their exemplary skills, loyalty and devotion. Hetty has done that in spades after becoming the first assistance dog in the UK, if not the world, to be both a guide dog and a seizure alert dog.
Owner Tony Brown-Griffin, a 43-year-old mum-of-two from Kent, is registered blind and has severe intractable epilepsy. She said: “Hetty is fundamental to my life. Everything I do is because of her. Without her I’d be stuck.”
She gives Tony a warning precisely 42 minutes before the onset of a major fit, enabling her to get to a place of safety. That’s in addition to her guiding duties.
Graham Smith, Guide Dogs' Director of Mobility Services, said: "We're delighted, but not at all surprised, that Hetty has been honoured as a Guardian Angel. She's a wonderful dog and I know she gives Tony and her family valuable peace of mind.
"Hetty was bred by Guide Dogs, and we're extremely proud that she's the first dog in the UK, possibly the world, able to give someone both freedom, by being their guide dog, and reassurance, by being their seizure alert dog.
"We're grateful to Support Dogs for working with us and we hope to train more dogs like Hetty in future."
Rita Howson, Support Dogs’ Director of Operations said: “This is well deserved recognition of the way all assistance dogs can improve the lives of those with disabilities. And Hetty is extra-special.
“Working with Guide Dogs on this unique and ground-breaking partnership has been so valuable for us – and Tony Brown-Griffin.”
The ceremony was filmed before a live audience in London with the awards being presented by popular comedian, and dog lover, Paul O’Grady.