[Rachel Smith | Contributing Writer]
As many of you are no doubt aware, Hertfordshire was recently visited by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. For just a couple of pounds you could go and see the dogs and meet the people whose lives have been changed by them.
Most of the people there were volunteers who take care of the dogs until they are old enough to enter training to become an official guide dog. Olivia’s owner, Edith Preston, has raised many dogs to enter guide dog training, Olivia herself is dog number 29. The carer keeps the dog for about the first 12 months of its life and teaches it certain basic skills including: obedience, learning that wearing the vest means it’s time to work, and staying away from and not reacting to other dogs.
To care for and train a guide dog throughout its life costs around £50,000 but the cost to legally buy a guide dog from the charity? 50p. It has to have monetary value because the dog legally has to be signed over to its new owner but the fee is so small that it does not discriminate against those who may not have the funds to otherwise acquire a guide dog.
The carers made it clear that it is hard, but very rewarding, work raising a potential guide dog for a year and they also made it clear that without the volunteers who choose to help, The Guide Dogs charity would not be able to do nearly as much for visually impaired people as they do now. The charity truly changes people’s lives and it needs all help possible. There are many opportunities to volunteer with the charity and more information can be found at guidedogs.org.uk/volunteer or by contacting 08453717771 or firstname.lastname@example.org.