Yvonne, from Surrey, is a volunteer puppy parent for Canine Partners. This is her story:



I wanted to become a puppy parent two years ago when my pet dog died so I went to a partnership ceremony to find out more. I listened to partners reading out speeches about how much their assistance dogs had changed their lives for the better and how it gave them their independence back and I knew the Charity was something I wanted to be a part of, it was a very moving day. Unfortunately I was told I lived too far away from Heyshott to become a puppy parent or foster parent at the Southern Centre but they took my contact details in case a satellite centre opened near me. I was delighted when out of the blue I received an email to say they were opening a Surrey satellite and asked whether I would be interested in joining. You couldn’t see me for dust and I was one of the first to join the group.


Becoming a puppy parent has been a really interesting experience. In the 1960s I was a soloist with the Royal Ballet Company in Covent Garden and then after that I started up my own ballet schools. I spent more than 25 years giving children exercises but was looking for a new challenge and something to keep me active in my retirement. I thought becoming a puppy parent would be perfect and was exactly what I was looking for. It is a great way of keeping my mind occupied and I now spend each night planning what Abbey and I are going to do the following day.


Abbey is the first dog I have trained and we spend our days getting her ready to eventually be partnered for someone with a disability. She was not very good with noise at first so it was a case of going on lots of walks near noisy traffic. I spent my days singing and making a racket around the house to get her used to it. Abbey also wasn’t a fan of shopping baskets which was a problem if she is going to go food shopping when she is partnered in the future. I asked my local shop if I could borrow one and I just put it in the kitchen for her to be around and get used to the shape and noise before taking her to the supermarket. She now loves shopping.


At the moment we are taking walks through a churchyard to get her used to the squirrels, she thinks they are all her playmates so to make her ignore the squirrels, I have to be more fun than they are. Training involves a lot of problem solving and is like a jigsaw, it all eventually comes together in the end. Every day is different - it all depends on what challenge I am working on and trying to overcome. It has been a very rewarding experience and seeing partnerships just confirms why I’m doing it and how much it impacts their life is just wonderful. Abbey has really calmed down since I first had her and is a really lovely companion.


Abbey has changed so much from the little bundle of fluff I was presented with at seven weeks of age and is soon to go on to advanced training to develop her skills before being partnered with someone with a disability. When she moves on it will be fine as Abbey was never mine to keep, I have just moulded her so she will be able to help someone become more independent in the future. I heard a partner say once ‘Canine Partners helps to open the door to a new future but it’s the puppy parents who hold the key’ and I have to say I agree.



Would you like to help transform the life of someone with a disability?  We are looking for more people like Yvonne willing to take on the early training of a puppy that will one day do something amazing.  The Surrey Canine Partners puppy training satellite is looking for volunteer puppy parents, who need to be able to attend weekly puppy classes.  Reasonable travel expenses will be covered and puppy food, toys, equipment, all veterinary costs and training is provided.


For further information on becoming a puppy parent email or visit



About Canine Partners

Canine Partners is a registered charity that assists people with disabilities to enjoy a greater independence and quality of life through the provision of specially trained dogs, whose well-being is a key consideration.  


More than 1.2 million people in the UK use a wheelchair, and a significant number of those would benefit from a canine partner.  The dogs are carefully matched to the applicant’s needs and lifestyle, no matter how challenging.  They are trained to help with everyday tasks such as opening and shutting doors, unloading the washing machine, picking up dropped items, pressing buttons and switches and getting help in an emergency.  The Charity is working in partnership with Help for Heroes, and aims to train dogs to meet the needs of people with even the most complex disabilities including members of HM Armed Forces.


These life transforming dogs also provide practical, physiological, psychological and social benefits including increased independence and confidence as well as increased motivation and self-esteem. A canine partner also brings companionship, a sense of security and increases social interaction.


Canine Partners receives no government funding and is wholly dependent on public donations and legacies.

For further press information contact Laura Molyneaux,
P:01730 716052, E:

Canine Partners, Mill Lane, Heyshott, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 0ED
T 08456 580480   F 08456 580481   E

Visit Canine Partners’ Web site at
Registered charity number 803680                                                                                 
Registered in Scotland  SCO39050