When the brethren of King Henry the Eighth Lodge raised substantial funds for the charity Canine Partners two years ago, wheelchair-bound Brian Haynes and his dog Beasley were invited to the lodge to receive a cheque for the charity. He was so impressed with what he saw that he became a mason.
Last year, Brian presented another cheque on behalf of the lodge for £3,000 to Canine Partners, which enables working dogs like Beasley to assist disabled people in living an independent life. The lodge, which meets at St Albans in Hertfordshire, wants to fully fund the training of a puppy through to it becoming a fully-fledged canine partner. With the 22-month training of a dog costing up to £12,000, continued fundraising is needed.
Once trained, the dogs’ repertoire is virtually endless: they can pick up the phone, open doors, take off socks, open refrigerator or washing machine doors, help an owner who may have fallen, summon help, switch the lights on and off, and go shopping with their owner, where they can take items from the shelf before gently offering the sales person a credit card or wallet.