Bus journeys leave many blind and partially-sighted people feeling extremely scared and unsafe.

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

During a recent survey nine out of ten visually-impaired respondents claimed that while using the bus they didn’t know where they were when let off at a stop, or missed their stop completely.  Many people found the drivers of the buses to be unhelpful, even rude on some occassions.  Almost thirty percent of the time drivers of the buses actually refused to let the blind or partially-sighted person know when their stop was coming up!

This is highly dangerous to people with guide dogs and is a horrible situation which should not occur.  Guide Dogs for the Blind have announced a new campaign called,  “Guide Dogs’  Talking Buses”. They are lobbying to make it  compulsory to have audio-visual announcements on buses which will allow people to hear where the next stop will be and also final destinations.  You can help with this campaign by writing to your local MP.  Let’s try to make bus journeys safer for all blind and partially-sighted people.

Campaign for compulsory microchipping for dogs

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Do you have your dog microchipped?  Many people feel that part of being a responsible dog owner involves microchipping your dog.  Recently the Sun newspaper wrote an article highlighting attacks that have happened to guide dogs while out with their owners.  Unfortunately, most of these dangerous dogs are never delt with like they should be.  This leaves the guide dog owner emotionally upset and the dog having to overcome it’s own ordeal.  It can cost around £50,000 for the full life (training, support, breed) of the guide dog.  This is very expensive, and such a sad waste of resources if the dog has to be removed from it’s work. Please join the campaign to make microchipping compulsory for all dogs. (see update, below!)

Last month the BBC ran a story about how Northern Ireland is passing a new law to make microchipping compulsory. Any stray dogs will be quickly identified and returned to their owners, reducing the numbers taken to dog-pounds which, if unclaimed, eventually have to be put down. Hopefully fewer stray dogs on the streets will also make them safer for guide dogs and humans alike.

Update: SUCCESS!

“To promote responsible dog ownership, Guide Dogs, as part of the Microchipping Alliance, successfully campaigned for all dogs to be microchipped. Since April 2016 all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales are now legally required to have been chipped by the time they are eight weeks old. A law has been in place in Northern Ireland since 2012. Dog owners who have not had their pets microchipped could face a fine of up to £500.”

Amazing Sensory Tunnel at Crufts

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

crufts
crufts

If you are visiting Crufts this year remember to stop by the Guide Dogs for the Blind exhibit to experience their amazing sensory tunnel.  As you walk through it you will experience different noises and textures, the smell of cut grass, wire fencing and bricks to name just a few.  This gives us a small glimpse of what daily struggles one might come across if visually impaired.

The sensory tunnel is similar in concept to the sensory rooms used in special education needs teaching, which focus on the different senses of touch, taste, hearing and vision to aid sensory modulation and bring about modifications in behaviour. Of course, not all senses are targetted in each sensory room. It’s common to have different rooms focus on different senses with perhaps a “music room”, a “light display room” or a “soft-touch room”.

Sensory-Tunnel
Sensory-Tunnel

The sensory tunnel set up by the Guide Dogs charity aims to give people with normal vision the perspective of what it’s like to be blind or partially sighted.

New Puppies To Sponsor

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Please note, this is an old post, and the current puppies to sponsor can be found on the homepage! 🙂


We’re a little late with the news that the puppies available for sponsoring have been updated. Take a look at the little cuties below and consider how much fun it’d be to sponsor one or more of them!

Sponsor A Puppy: Cracker
Sponsor A Puppy: Cracker
Apparently, Cracker is a loving puppy who enjoys fuss and attention! (Don’t they all!) 🙂
Sponsor A Puppy: Rudolph
Sponsor A Puppy: Rudolph
Rudolph is a beautiful, big puppy with a big personality! He loves playing with his litter mates and will one day grow up to be a wonderful companion for a blind or partially-sighted person.
Sponsor A Puppy: Snowy
Sponsor A Puppy: Snowy

Snowy is a beautiful bundle of fluff who also loves playing with her litter-mates, although she does it more affectionately than Rudolph!

Guide Dog Success Stories: Part 1

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Guide Dog Owner
Guide Dog Owner

There are plenty of inspiring accounts out there of successful relationships between the sight-impaired and their faithful guide dogs, which is no surprise given the nature of these unions. The bond forged between a human in need and his trusty animal companion is one shaped by necessity that grows into respect, and then into affection. Simple though they may be, each tale underscores the importance of guide dogs in the role for which they are trained, and the constant need to keep providing them to their beneficiaries.

Joan Robinson, blind since college and a resident of Toronto, Canada, had relied on a cane for the longest time to get around, which wasn’t a lot of the time due to the sedentary nature of her life. However, when she retired at the age of 60, she grew determined to do much more exploring, more travelling, now that she had more time on her hands to do so. A cane simply wouldn’t do for this next phase. This was when she began to seriously consider obtaining a guide dog to help her. The decision to do so was helped along by an encounter with another blind woman, Maya Jonas, who was using a guide dog when they met in an elevator and neither of them could figure out the button that would take them to the mezzanine of the building. They eventually became good friends, and Joan finally took the leap with her new partner, Tallulah, a pleasant, friendly guide dog that turned out to be just what she needed.

Of course, the adjustment phase was difficult at first, as Joan had been used to anticipating and warily soldiering forward with her cane for most of her life, and it was certainly a shift to allow Tallulah to do her job and lead. Soon, Joan learned to trust that her guide dog would not steer her wrong, and discovered a much more expansive world, made easier to navigate thanks to her partner.

Erin Rumer is another brave young lady who learned to overcome her blindness by being fiercely independent about her lifestyle, taught early on by her parents not to sit on her pity pot and do her best with what she had. It was certainly a challenge for her, with three sighted siblings and friends who were growing up “normally”, able to do many things she couldn’t, like drive. Fortunately, she decided she could do with a little assistance, then, from a guide dog, in order to compensate for the reality of her blindness. She describes the experience as liberating, with her able to move around much more quickly than before, not having to bump into everything all the time, and able to focus more on things like getting a college degree and meeting her future husband.

Trust is one of the biggest issues with using a guide dog, entrusting your safety and well-being to a non-human who can’t communicate with you or understand things the way another person would. All of these concerns quickly melt away, however, when you realize just how rigorously-trained these essential companions are, in no small part due to the support of people who donate to training institutions for guide dogs and sponsor their development.

Protecting Guide Dogs from Other Dogs

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Labrador Golden retriever puppies
Labrador Golden retriever puppies

In spite of our widespread efforts at completely domesticating man’s best friend, there are quite a few dogs out there that can’t seem to shake off their inner beast. A number of species, in particular, tend to be destructively aggressive, lashing out and attacking objects, people, and in some cases, other dogs. Now, a dog getting attacked by another dog is an unfortunate situation already, but when the dog being victimised is a guide dog, the stakes grow exponentially higher.

This is due to the fact that the guide dog is typically “at work”, performing its essential task of assisting a person whose sight is impaired. Obviously, any physical damage inflicted by another dog can render a guide dog unable to work until it heals, but more often it’s the emotional trauma that prevents the guide dog from functioning according to its training after the event. A single dog attack can undo all those months of intense training, costing the blind person an invaluable resource, to the tune of up to £50,000, which is the cost to maintain a guide dog during its lifetime. According to local reports, about three guide dogs are attacked by other dogs each month, with breeds like pitbulls, bull mastiffs and bull terriers accounting for up to 40 percent of these canine assaults. Worse still is that less than 10 percent of these attacks are properly reported, and the guide dog owners rarely receive compensation or even an apology, since the owners of these other dogs feel that there isn’t anything the blind person can do anyway.

To a certain extent, regretfully, this is true; the sight-impaired are ill-equipped to do much to fend off a savage attack on their animal companions. It is suggested, however, that blind people can carry a high-pitched whistle on their person, and when they hear the angry growl of another dog, they can blow the whistle to disorient the would-be attacker.  Other folks have suggested using squirt guns filled with water, or pepper spray, with the blind person pulling his dog close to him and spraying outwards, though this approach is dubious.  Certainly, the best approach is a community effort: blind people can be assisted by third persons in neighbourhoods that have pet dogs running free, and people with dogs can be educated on how to train and control their dogs not to attack anything that crosses their path.  Hopefully, people will come together on this issue and do what they can to minimise the occurrence of attacks on guide dogs.

Keep checking out this blog site for more news and discussions on guide dogs and see how you can sponsor one today!

A Guide Dog’s Guide Dog

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Guide Dog's Guide Dog
Guide Dog’s Guide Dog

Guide dogs spend the majority of their benevolent lives devoting themselves to assisting the blind in getting around and interacting safely with the dangers inherent in a modern urban society.  But what happens when it is the guide dog that loses its sight?  Do blind guide dogs get guide dogs in turn to help them out?

It turns out that they do, at least in one particular instance.  Graham Waspe, 60, enjoyed the company and capabilities of his trusty guide dog, Edward, for all of eight years.  That’s about 56 in dog years, so Edward’s been plodding away into the latter part of middle age.  However, poor Edward began to suffer from cataracts, which impaired his vision and became so damaging that his eyes had to be surgically removed.

Now, a dog’s eyesight, unlike our own, is hardly its sharpest sense, and one might say that Edward didn’t lose too much from the removal of his eyes.  Nonetheless, it still counts as a crippling disability, one that guaranteed Edward would lose his day job.  Of course, Mr. Waspe wasn’t about to just toss his faithful companion by the wayside.  Like many guide dogs who could no longer function as such, Edward would assume the status of a retired guide dog, and continue living with his master as a beloved pet.

Waspe, however, seems to have taken his care for Edward one step further, by providing his now blind friend with his own guide dog, young Opal.  Aside from taking over for Edward’s typical guide dog duties, Opal apparently also assists Edward with getting around as well, pulling what may amount to a double shift to make sure that both of her blind companions do not injure themselves when they step out into the world.

How has this affected Edward?  Well, it looks like he and Opal have been getting along just fine, no animosity between dogs, let alone jealousy on the part of Edward that his duties have been usurped.  Curiously, Waspe’s wife, Sandra, 58, has noted that Edward is basking in greater popularity now that his condition has people interested in how he copes.  Sure, Edward can’t muster more than a few barks and howls, but if he could, he’d probably have a few words to say about availing of the same service that he used to provide, not so long ago.

You can check out this online news article to see what Edward and Opal look like today.  Keep checking Sponsor A Guide Dog regularly for more guide dog updates.

Guide Dogs Wanted: A Job Description

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

 

Guide Dog Puppy
Guide Dog Puppy

What an advertisement for a guide dog’s job would probably look like:

 

Hey there, boy! Hey! Do you want to be a guide dog? Would you like to receive access to locations that would ban most other dogs, possibly travel and become recognised in other countries for your good work, and receive the personal satisfaction that you’re providing an invaluable service to a sight-impaired human who will become your master?

Good boy, I knew you’d leap at the chance! I hope you’re not too old, we’re looking for puppies only, not more than eight weeks of age! This is a lifelong career, and we want you to be ready for it from the beginning. Also, we don’t want dogs who have a tendency to chase cats or get distracted easily. The ideal guide dog is smart, attentive, focused, eager to learn new things, sensitive to sound and touch, and in the prime of health.

Prepare yourself for some rigorous training, courtesy of the guide-dog schooling program, which is especially rigorous compared to typical obedience school lessons. You’re not just being trained to be a good dog, but one who can successfully navigate through the human world without the benefit of a master whose lead you can follow. In fact, you’ll be doing the leading every day, which is a daunting but impressive task.

Some of things you’ll learn are being able to maintain a steady pace with your handler, turning, moving forward and stopping on command, and helping your handler get on and off of public transportation. You’ll also be able to decipher some simple words in human language, which you’ll recognise as directions to help you know how best to assist your handler. You will get to know what a lift is, what obstacles to avoid on your daily route, and how to block out any distractions from your regimen.

One of the most important things you’ll learn is how to disobey, yes, disobey in special circumstances, such as when your handler tells you to advance and following him would put him in danger. Certainly, no average dog can be expected to make such complex decisions on a daily basis, so we only choose from the best, and only the best of the best graduate to become full-fledged guide dogs.

Hey boy, don’t look so glum, there’s plenty of fun to be had as well! When the harness comes off at day’s end, you can bask in the pleasure of being a pet dog just like any other, and enjoy the adoration of your handler and other humans around who recognise your invaluable role.

What are you waiting for?  Become a part of our elite brotherhood today!

Humans, we could use your help too.  Click here to discover how to join our guide dog sponsorship program.

Sponsor A Guide Monkey?

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

We all know about guide dogs and the various charities that promote the training of guide dogs … but are other animals capable of performing the same function of assisting people with vision impairment? In the Telegraph today there’s a report on Capuchin monkeys being trained to help people (“The average helper monkey will be acclimatised for seven years before beginning its role as an assistant. It will then do its job for anything between 20 and 30 years, two or three times the working life of the average dog.”), as well as miniature horses acting as guide animals.

As our understanding of the human-animal interaction deepens, it’s encouraging to see the development of better insight into how we can make animal-human parterships work.

David Blunkett Says Dog Laws Need Tightening

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

David Blunkett, the former cabinet minister and one of Britain’s highest profile guide dog owners, has said that Britain’s dog laws are not protecting the owners of guide dogs which are being attacked on the streets.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, bull terriers and other attack dogs are responsible for more than three attacks per month on guide dogs in Britain.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind charity suggest that one way to solve the problem would be to microchip all dogs which may encourage a more responsible attitude from their owners as it would enable them to be traced and prosecuted.  In one high profile case, a dog owner whose dog attacked a guide dog was sentenced to a three month suspended jail sentence, ordered to do 150 hours community service, pay 1200 pounds compensation to the Guide Dogs for the Blind plus 500 pounds to the owner of the guide dog which was attacked.  The problem of attacks on guide dogs is compounded by the fact that the guide dog owner cannot see how injured their guide dog is.