Guide Dogs for the Blind is our chosen charity, in memory of our late colleague Alex Underwood. In addition to an initial donation, as part of our Christmas activities, we donated £1000 to the charity.
The charity is also special to us because one of our colleagues, Wendy Allwood, who is a Rehabilitation Coordinator on the Sight and Hearing Team at our Dorset Service Centre, has a guide dog. In fact, Uschie, who is a 6-year-old Labrador-Retriever cross, is Wendy’s third guide dog.
Wendy told us of the difference her dogs have made to her, giving her back her independence and confidence and ensuring she can get around safely.
Guide dogs have their own breeding programme and are placed with a puppy walker in their home at about 14 weeks, until they’re about a year old. During this time, the puppy walker carries out basic obedience training, socialising and getting them used to different environments such as going into shops, cafes and on public transport.
Guide dog training then starts at around 14 months and at the latter stages they look to match the dog and take into consideration several things, such as how fast you walk, how tall you are, your tone and volume of voice, your hobbies and your work and home situation.
Once a new owner and guide dog are matched, there’s two-three weeks’ intensive training, which is really important for bonding.
It’s estimated to cost over £63,000 to support a Guide Dog throughout its training and working life.
Wendy's described the difference her guide dogs have made to her life, we hope that our donation can help make a difference to someone else's life.