Man’s best friend is clear to the 7,000+ people in the UK who currently rely on a registered service dog. But such dog partnerships involve a time-consuming process, from client training to support throughout the animals’ working lives, costing an average of £36,000.
In partnership with charities Dogs for Good and Medical Detection Dogs, the Kennel Club Charitable Trust has sponsored more than 30 dogs to become specially trained companions to adults and children who need them.
To raise funds for this vital work, the trust – with support from George and The Caring Family Foundation – has partnered with photographer Rankin to curate an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery that showcases some of the UK’s most inspiring service dogs – from hospital therapy huskies to shiba inu police dogs.
One pooch featured is Thunder, a husky who has earned the nickname “The Wonder Dog” for his work as a support animal in a palliative-care setting. Thunder has helped countless terminally ill people, including being there at the end for nine of them.
‘I am honoured to have had the privilege to photograph these incredible dogs and their handlers,’ says Rankin. ‘I have been a dog lover all my life, and know what joy they can bring. But to hear the stories of these brilliant creatures and better understand the work they do is really eye-opening. It is a pleasure to bring together this exhibit for public viewing, and I encourage everyone to go and see it first-hand.’
Lily Waterton, senior exhibition programming executive at the gallery, says, ‘We are delighted to bring this exhibition to life. It is a natural fit for us, given that an unofficial member of the team is Gemma, a retired service dog owned by the gallery director. We can’t wait to share the stories of the participants with our audiences.’
A Celebration of Dogs with Jobs runs until 18 December. Admission is free and pre-booking is not required. Any donations made at donation points within the exhibition will help fund health and welfare projects, including the training of service dogs. Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4RY;