It’s not just your furry family Fido that needs an escape from everyday life. Working dogs need a chance to sit back and relax too, taking a break from their daily routine of caring for someone in need. Our accessible dog-friendly cottages are simply pawfect for those owners who may struggle to get around due to issues with their sight. Guide dogs provide an invaluable opportunity for them to live a fuller life, never leaving their side, and deserve a holiday with their beloved human just as much as any other pooch.
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association began in 1931, training puppies to aid those in need, raising funds through charity work, and offering a priceless service to those most in need of help. Since then, they have trained over 30,000 canines to become fully-fledged guide dogs, changing thousands of lives for the better with the help of four paws. At present, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association holds its paws up as the world’s largest breeder and trainer of working dogs.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO TRAIN A GUIDE DOG?
On average, a guide dog can take between 20 and 24 months to become fully trained, however this timescale is entirely dependent on the specific dog and training required. In the early years of breeding and training, German Shepherds were the preferred breed, but over the years this has slowly progressed towards a preference for Labradors and Golden Retrievers.
QUALITIES OF A GUIDE DOG
Intelligence, temperament and a willingness to learn come top of the list when it comes to the pawfect guide dog, alongside the ability to adapt to different environments. They are taught to walk ahead on the lead and obey simple commands from their owners such as sit, down, stay and come.
Guide dogs are taught to walking in a straight line unless there’s an obstacle and trained not to turn corners unless instructed to do so. They must learn to stop at kerbs and wait for a command to cross over and must have the ability to judge height and width all around them; a guide dog is the lifeline of their owner, so spatial awareness is key to ensuring their human is never at risk of bumping into anything and can safely cross busy roads.
It's no understatement to say that a guide dog changes a person’s life if they have limited vision, or in fact no sight at all. Lynette was just 19 when her sight very suddenly began deteriorating and was forced to leave university and move back home. She was reliant on friends and family, felt pressured in crowded places, and was in constant danger of walking into things around her. Her confidence was low, and she would only venture as far as the local shop with her mum.
And then Lynette met Pippa.
“I was treating a day as if it were a chore that took so much effort to accomplish,” said Lynette. “I had no dreams or goals past going to bed each night. I was alive, but I certainly wasn’t living.
“Before I got Pippa, I was struggling just to walk to the shops. I didn’t have any confidence. Now I’m able to do what I want, when I want to do it. I’m finishing my degree, doing a part-time job… and my friends can be my friends, not my carers.”
Lynette is now able to live a fuller life thanks to Pippa, venturing out with friends for lunch, going swimming, and living each day with a smile. Getting a guide dog completely turned her life around, as it does for so many people in need of a canine to help them make it through the day.
HELP THE GUIDE DOGS CHARITY - SPONSOR A GUIDE DOG
If you're looking to help these guide dogs do some amazing work with the blind, there are many ways to support the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity. Sponsoring a Guide Dog puppy means you'll get updates on your puppy's progress and see its journey from a tony bundle of fur to a fully-fledged guide dog.
Sponsoring a dog is just one way you can help. Donations, leaving a gift in your Will, fundraising and volunteering are just some of the other ways you can help this fantastic charity. Take a look at the How You Can Help page to get involved.
At Canine Cottages, we pride ourselves on having properties that can suit all needs and requirements, and that includes those less abled than others. Our accessible cottages provide a break for both visually impaired owners and their ever-faithful companions, offering a much-needed holiday for both hound and human.