Posted by: christinelaennec | December 11, 2013

Fan-girling with Allen and Endal Jr.

I had a lovely encounter this morning.  Let me give you the background first.  Summer before last, when the Dafter was still in the first year of being ill with ME/CFS, and had been using a wheelchair for a few months (a fantastic addition to our lives), I read an excellent book:  Endal by Allen and Sandra Parton.  It’s the story of a soldier, Allen, who suffered brain damage in the Gulf War.  He was confined to a wheelchair, couldn’t remember his wife or family, and was largely unable to feel emotions such as love or compassion.  He went through anger, suicide attempts, and the usual range of reactions experienced by a person who has suddenly become disabled.  His family stuck by him for eight years, but his heart remained closed and he often resented them.  It was a dog, Endal, who helped him to regain the ability to love, and also to function independently in the world.

Well, who should be having a coffee in the Glasgow branch of John Lewis this morning?

(l to r) Endal Jr., Allen, me.  John Lewis, Glasgow, December 2013.

(l to r) Endal Jr., Allen Parton, me. John Lewis, Glasgow, December 2013.  Allen didn’t seem to mind that his coffee was getting cold!

The first Endal died a few years ago, but he had already begun training his successor, Endal Jr.  It’s Endal Jr.s photo that’s on the cover of the book (link above).  Reading Endal when I did gave me courage for the road ahead with the Dafter’s ME.  I could better understand the trials she was undergoing with having become disabled through severe illness, and I certainly appreciated the fact that her capacity for love and connection remained unimpaired.  The book also underlined, for me, how vital the love of family is.  Sandra Parton’s refusal to give up on her husband inspired me.  Allen said that they are going to be making a movie of the book – I’ll look out for that!

Allen and Sandra Parton started a charity called “Hounds for Heroes,” which trains up assistance dogs such as Endal.  Allen told the small group of us who had gathered around – others knew of him through television programmes, as well as the book – that the charity also assists injured firefighters and police officers, as well as injured military personnel.  Having experienced a little bit of what it means for someone to lose vast portions of their life to disability, I can imagine that these animals are literally life-savers.

If you’re looking for a worthwhile cause to support, this might be the one!



  1. A very inspiring post ~ I have a friend who raises Labs for companion dogs and seeing eye dogs. Thank you for the link. It must have been an encouraging visit for you.

  2. that is a very heartwarming story. thanks, Christine. labs are lovely dogs; we have a black lab who is getting very old now but is a wonderful companion. I am happy that you got to meet the author and his dog. 🙂

  3. How wonderful for you to meet this author who has such an inspiring story! Dogs have an empathy and such unconditional love – they are truly a gift to mankind. Loyal and loving companions who never complain, criticize, and are always happy to see you! This is truly a worthwhile cause. xo

  4. What a wonderful story, and a very dedicated wife. There must have been times when she felt close to giving up entirely, her commitment in the face of such difficulties is inspiring. And his of course, it must have been awful for him, but to come through that and have this amazing story to tell at the end is marvellous. I imagine it could make an excellent film.

  5. Lump in throat. I reckon Tilly goes a way to become qualified as a carer too.

  6. What an inspirational story! ❤

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I was unaware of it. I have been looking for the sort of charity that touches my heart. I think you may have pointed me in a good direction. Here is wishing you and your entire family a very Blessed Christmas.

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments, and good wishes. Lucinda, I’m glad if this has given you some inspiration for your giving.

  9. What a special encounter!!!!! It always good to read of people’s life stories and their courage at walking through such trials.

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