Guide Dogs are valued around the world. This one is working in Brazil.
GUIDE DOGS Week, halfway through
Service or assistance dogs, those wonderfully intelligent and friendly creatures, are known throughout the world for their dedication to their owners. They can be hearing dogs, guide dogs or provide another form of invaluable help.
Well, today (Wednesday) is the halfway point of Guide Dogs Week in the UK and it runs until the 11th. The Guide Dogs for the Blind charity is encouraging people to Stand Out for Guide Dogs, part of which is to take a photograph of yourself highlighted in neon paint. It is fun and looks impressive.
The charity says: “We will not rest until people who are blind or partially sighted can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.
“Every hour another person in the UK goes blind. We need your help to make sure that when someone loses their sight they don’t lose their freedom as well.”
During Guide Dogs Week you can help change more lives and create more partnerships. I urge you to do all that you can to help this great cause.
Many years ago, I was a member of a young men’s service organisation called Round Table. Our chosen charity that year was the Guide Dogs and through effort and determination we raised enough to pay for the training of a dog.
A few years later, I found myself volunteering as an adult leader in the Scouts. Our cub pack was raising money for the same charity and was successful enough to be able to choose a name for a dog. We held our meetings in the church hall, so we named her after the saint of the church.
In the last couple of weeks, twice these fantastic animals have caused me to think of their bravery and commitment to the task they have been expertly trained to carry out.
The first was an incident in which a taxi driver reversed his vehicle onto a pavement (sidewalk in the US) and into a young, newly trained guide dog and her owner. The fact that the pavement was in use seemed not to bother him and the car did not stop until the blind man realised what was happening and tapped on it with his cane.
Police were called but no action is being taken against the driver who has said he is going to claim damages from the blind person for denting the taxi. That is ridiculous, isn’t it? Luckily, the dog only suffered bruising but we don’t yet know if her training will be enough to overcome the shock of the incident.
The second dog is Lara, a yellow Labrador. After just four years’ service, she has been found to be suffering from a birth defect that could not be discovered at an early stage and so she needs help. Her female owner decided to retire her in March this year and, speaking to her just the other day, I asked when she can get a new guide dog. I thought that she would have a new guide living alongside the retired one.
In fact, she won’t have another guide dog while Lara is still with her. Her words brought tears to my eyes.
“My mobility had to come second to her needs.. I am waiting until Lara is no longer with us, wouldn’t be fair, she has a lot of needs so she has to come first.
“I wouldn’t have had it any other way, she took care of me for nearly four years, kept me safe. Now it’s my turn to take care of her and give her the best life I can with the huge restrictions she has. Sadly her working life was very short, she was an amazing guide dog, so intelligent she qualified early, best in her year. She’s a very spoilt lady now!”
And repaying Lara’s dedication and service with such love means that this woman is once again getting about using a white cane.
Such a two-way bond of love and trust is just beyond words.
Retired Guide Dog Lara enjoying the sofa.
- You can find Lara’s owner on Twitter @barefoot&paws