Just for Pets has fund raised for the Guide Dogs for the Blind for many years and we are proud to have sponsored six Guide Dog puppies through the efforts of staff and customers alike raising money in store.
To find out exactly what the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is all about we went along to their National Breeding Centre to see for ourselves.
“Every hour, another person in the UK goes blind. When someone loses their sight, Guide Dogs are here to make sure they don’t lose their freedom as well. Guide Dogs provides a range of mobility services and works to break down barriers so that people who are blind and partially sighted can get out and about on their own terms. We receive no government funding and therefore we rely solely on the generous donations of our supporters.
We commit to providing a guide dog for life and a guide dog owner may have up to eight dogs in their lifetime” – Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
We knew the work of the Guide Dogs was non government funded and that every penny raised means that we can directly make a difference to a blind persons life, the staff at the centre helped us to understand the difficulties that a blind person faces, how isolating blindness can be and exactly what freedom a guide dog can afford them.
BLINDFOLD DOG WALK : After an introduction to Sam & Mandy – guide dog trainers we started with a blindfold dog walk to emphasise the trust placed in a guide dog. Claude & Mistrel were our guides and one by one we were blindfolded given instruction on how to react to the dogs guiding us through an outdoor obstical course.
GUIDE DOG ORGANISATION TALK : John Garrett accompanied by his guide dog Eddie spoke to us about his experiences and his work with the Guide Dog Association with a very touching account of becoming a guide dog owner. He explained to us that the lifetime cost of a guide dog is around £50,000 this being footed by the association. A guide dog is provided for life and a guide dog owner may have up to eight dogs in their lifetime.
NATIONAL BREEDING CENTRE TOUR : Next on the agenda was a tour of the centre including (to the Just for Pets teams excitement) entry into the viewing tunnel in the breeding centre to see just some of the puppies that are present. The new centre increases the capacity to breed puppies from 1,100 to 1,500 a year which is a key part of the ambition to get more blind and partially sighted people out and about. With underfloor heating, background noise and 24 hour surveillance cameras it’s no wonder they were so chilled out !
THE SENSORY TUNNEL EXPERIENCE : blindfolded and sent alone to face the challenge of the Sensory Tunnel – an interactive experience that simulates what it is like to be totally blind.
MY GUIDE TASTER SESSION : Introduced by Hannah Gibson who explained that a Guide Dog is not suitable for everyone. The My Guide scheme is a partnership between Guide Dogs and community organisations, which helps people with sight loss get out of their homes and back into the community. We were then treated to a buddy walk around the centre – inside and out, putting our trust in our partners.
PUPPY WALKER TALK : Introduced by Emily Williams accompanied by Wendy who talked about how Puppy walkers play a vital role in the early socialisation and education of guide dogs. At about six weeks of age, puppies start their early training, remaining with you until they are around one year old, at which point they are transferred to a training centre to begin their specialised training.
The Just for Pets team learnt so much at the centre and will continue to campaign on their behalf supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Kate Byrne Operations Director at Just for Pets says “Working with guide dogs is both extremely rewarding and also great fun. Just for Pets are very proud of our association with guide dogs and have raised over £25k so far through the generosity and efforts of our customers and team. Via the name a puppy scheme, our £25k has sponsored 6 potential guide dog puppies through their first year, and we hope that this relationship continues for many years. When you see just how much difference a guide dog can make in someone’s life it makes all the fund raising and hard work worth it.”