MEETING Hamlin has been life-changing for Parkinson’s sufferer Alan Edbrooke.
The 48-year-old, from Bordon, is now helping to raise awareness for the charity Canine Partners, as International Assistance Dogs Week continues until Saturday.
Alan discovered he had the condition in 2004 after recognising the symptoms when his body began to shake uncontrollably. Both his father and grandfather suffered from the condition and that year he gave up his job as an IT manager because the condition was causing agoraphobia and he was having panic attacks when he was away from home.
Within a few years he was rarely going outside because he was so frightened of leaving the house.
Alan, who lives in Kingsley with his wife Janine, was also in constant pain as his back muscles were tensing up to deal with the shaking.
That’s when Hamlin came into Alan’s life.
“It was love at first sight. It’s incredible the difference he’s made. You can’t measure it,” he said.
“I get up in the morning and I look forward to seeing Hamlin, where as I used to just stay in bed.
“Hamlin goes everywhere with me – even to the gym. He comes to Pilates which is excellent for my back and everyone loves him in there.
“As soon as I move in the morning, Hamlin’s there ready to help.”
The pair are now inseparable. As well as boosting Alan’s self-confidence and self-esteem, he opens doors, helps with the washing machine and helps Alan to put on and take off his shoes when he can’t bend down due to his back pain.
He also picks up anything that Alan drops on the floor.
“One of the most important things Hamlin does is he gives me a constant point of reference by my side while we’re walking,” he added.
“When you have Parkinson’s, stumbling and falling can be reduced with visual cues, like having a dog walking gently by your side.
“He keeps me going straight when we’re out and about.
“Hamlin has given me the confidence to go back into the outside world. He has given me a future.
“He has made me happier being me.”
Alan and Hamlin are one of Canine Partners’ 383 partnerships that are currently active. Each partnership costs the charity £20,000.
But the organisation receives no government funding so it relies on sponsorship and donations from members of the public to continue training its dogs.
For more information about Canine Partners call 08456 580480 or visit the website at: www.caninepartners.org.uk