This month on the 29th April marks International Guide Dogs Day, a day to celebrate guide dogs and the amazing difference they make to the lives of partially sighted or blind people worldwide. Anyone who knows first-hand, or has had experience of, someone that is helped by a guide dog will know that not only do they work to improve the quality of life of their owner on a daily basis but most become a best friend too, providing valuable companionship and love to what can otherwise feel like an isolated life.
Any dog owners will know how strong the bond we develop with our pets can be, but for people with guide dogs it is this precious relationship that’s at the core of just how they’re able to assist their owners in all different situations. It requires a foundation of complete respect and trust, both physically and emotionally, that can be an awe-inspiring sight to witness. This means that the pairing of dog and owner is so important in terms of both physical and personality traits to ensure the perfect pup to best assist the individual person’s needs. Different breeds of dogs have different characteristics; so more active and energetic types are better suited for more active people whereas placid dogs are well matched with those who enjoy quiet time. After all, guide dogs are still pets too and in between times when they’re assisting their owner they enjoy relaxing, playing and spending quality downtime together.
Every time a blind or partially sighted person steps outside with their guide dog, they are putting their safety in the hands (or paws!) of their furry aid, which is why the extensive training that guide dogs receive from when they are a puppy is so important and key to developing their abilities. Skills that they’re taught from a young age include learning how to deal with traffic and crossing roads, to consistently walking in a straight line in the centre of pavements, and judging height and width to prevent their owner bumping their head or shoulders. We all know how much time and effort can go into teaching our dog even just a basic trick or command, so International Guide Dogs Day is also a chance to celebrate and express our admiration for the people who train these dogs to be able to so competently save lives of those without sight on a regular basis.
Dogs bring us many wonderful things but guide dogs give perhaps the greatest gift of all – reconnecting those without sight with the world again physically and allowing them to lead a life with more freedom. So, this Wednesday, we’d like to encourage you to take some time to appreciate the amazing work these animals do and the impact they have on the lives of so many. You can find out more about guide dogs and the ways in which they help people all over here.