Customers make an ‘impawtant’ choice
National Express customers have come together to make an ‘impawtant’ decision - naming their sponsored assistance puppy ‘Mabel’.
Customers were given the chance to name the two-month-old black Labrador pup after having donated over £13,600 to assistance dogs charity Canine Partners, to cover the cost of purchasing and training the dog.
Hundreds of passengers took part in an online vote which saw other popular names such as Princess, Happy, Floss and Bingo rejected in favour of Mabel.
When she graduates, Mabel will transform a life by supporting a person who lives with physical disabilities.
Canine Partners’ assistance dogs are trained to give practical help with everyday household tasks including: loading the washing machine, getting dressed, retrieving the phone and answering the door as well as offering security and companionship.
The dogs bring a greater independence and quality of life to their partners, providing psychological and social benefits including increased independence, confidence, social interaction and self-esteem.
National Express first joined forces with Canine Partners in 2015 when the coach company opened up an online donation tab, offering customers the chance to donate £1 to the charity when booking coach travel.
Since then coach passengers have raised more than £30,000 for canine partners and previously sponsored puppy ‘Goldie’, who is now a fully trained adult assistance dog.
National Express also provides free travel to people training assistance puppies to help with the process of familiarising the dogs with public transport.
People giving up their time to look after the puppies, called puppy parents, are eligible to travel free with their young dog to and from any of more than 900 National Express stops across the UK.
The coach operator’s fleet of 550 vehicles is currently more than 99% accessible to passengers with reduced mobility and will be 100% accessible in advance of the legislative requirement in 2020.
National Express Coach Managing Director Chris Hardy said: “We are delighted that our customers voted in favour of the excellent name – Mabel. Assistance dogs such as Mabel are welcome to travel on our vehicles because they are a lifeline to people living with physical disabilities, and we support Canine Partners who do fantastic work in training these amazing dogs.”
Canine Partners Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Anne Yendell added: “Our partnership with National Express over past few years has been fantastic and we cannot thank them enough for their support both financially in raising such significant funds but also by helping us raise awareness of our charity across the country. The chosen name Mabel is lovely and we look forward to keeping the National Express family updated with her progress as she goes through training. She will go on to do such an amazing job for one of our applicants and will be a lifeline for that person, truly transforming their life in so many ways.”
Notes to editors
About Mabel: Mabel was born on 27th December 2017 and she joined Canine Partners’ training programme on 14 February 2018. She will be trained in the Midlands under the watchful eye of trainer Julia.
Mabel will spend the first 14 months of her life in a loving home with a puppy parent who will socialise her and help her experience everything she may come across as an assistance dog. This includes travelling on coaches and trains and going into shops and walking calmly through towns. Mabel will also attend regular classes with her puppy parent and, under Julia’s instruction, will learn all the basic skills she will need to help prepare her enter advanced training.
Advanced Training happens at one of Canine Partners’ two training centres where a team of dedicated trainers will have five months to develop her skills to support the needs of someone with physical disabilities. Once trained Mabel will be able to pick up dropped items, open and close doors, unload a washing machine and get help in an emergency. In about two year’s time someone will have their life transformed with Mabel’s help. For the next few weeks though she will get to know her puppy parents, explore her new home and master her toilet training!
About Canine Partners: Canine Partners transforms the lives of people with physical disabilities by partnering them with assistance dogs. The dogs bring a greater independence and quality of life to their partners, offering security, companionship, and practical help with everyday household tasks. These life-changing dogs also provide psychological and social benefits including increased independence, confidence, social interaction and self-esteem.