The Queen

Queen offered a posy by Labrador during canine Partners celebration

It is widely known The Queen loves dogs and horses. They have always been part of her life. Her Majesty spent Thursday morning in West Sussex at Canine Partners, a charity that trains dogs to assist those with special needs.

The Queen’s visit was to mark the charity’s milestone of training 400 assistance dogs who perform everyday tasks for their owners with physical disabilities. During her reign, The Queen has received many posies, none though, presented by an eager 7-year-old black Labrador named Yarna.

Both Yarna and Her Majesty were delighted with the posy. Yarna is a descendant of a breeding line of The Queen’s dogs at Sandringham. She is the sixth generation from Magpie.

Before the crowd, Yarna offered The Queen a curtsy but dropped the posy at her feet. The Queen didn’t seem to mind. Yarna’s handler, Alison Bailey saved the day.

Alison said later about Yarna: “She did her very best, she is a dog, not a robot. I am delighted with her.”

Much of The Queen’s visit was spent observing the trained dogs perform the various skills they use to assist their disabled handlers such as fetch telephones, remove laundry from a washer and undo zips.

Her Majesty pronounced one excited dog “rather licky”, but it was Flint, the littlest of the dogs present who appeared to be her absolute favourite. Flint is a 12-week-old black Labrador who is just beginning his training. The Queen stroked him and commented: “He’s very friendly, isn’t he? Not shy.”

Queen Elizabeth also watched the earliest stages of the canine training. She laughed as Wilko, a 14-week-old puppy insisted on missing the last hurdle he was supposed to jump. He preferred to run through the tunnel instead.

“Is he supposed to do that?” she asked, beaming. “He’s missed out that end one!”

She offered encouragement to one dog who was helping his handler remove her jacket.

The Queen showed an interest in not only the dogs; she interacted with the handlers, asking them for details on their breeding programme, the dogs training and how long it lasted. She met two puppy partners who temporarily live on the charity grounds as they complete the final stage of training before heading home. The Queen said to them: “It’s very good, isn’t it? I do hope it’s a success.”

Later in her visit, she met charity executives, volunteers and supporters. Before her departure, three dogs standing at attention in a row greet Her Majesty. She remarked with a smile: “They’re very serious, aren’t they?”

No event including dogs would be complete without somehow including The Queen’s beloved corgis. The charity offered her blankets and toys for her own dogs in their colours.