The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association


The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

Guide Dogs logo
Abbreviation Guide Dogs
Formation December 0, 1934 (1934-00-00) (77 years ago)
Type Charity
Staff 1000
Volunteers 10000
Website http://www.guidedogs.org.uk

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (known as Guide Dogs) is a British charitable organisation founded in 1934.

Guide Dogs provides independence and freedom to thousands of blind and partially-sighted people across the UK through the provision of guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services. They also campaign passionately for the rights of those with visual impairments and invest millions of pounds in eye disease research.

Guide Dogs’ vision is for “a society in which blind and partially-sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.”

The charity's purpose is "to deliver the guide dog service and other mobility services, as well as breaking down barriers - both physical and legal - to enable blind and partially-sighted people to get around on their own."

Guide Dogs’ head office is based near Reading in Berkshire. They have four Guide Dog Training Schools in Redbridge, Leamington, Bolton and Forfar, as well as a National Breeding Centre near Leamington, plus 28 district teams and many fundraising branches across the country. Guide Dogs relies on the skills and energy of some 10,000 volunteers, fundraisers and supporters around the country, as well as about 1,000 professional employees.

Contents

Service

The guide dog service provides a blind or partially-sighted person with a guide dog. These dogs are born in the home of a volunteer brood bitch holder then move to the home of a volunteer puppy walker when six weeks old. After 12 to 14 months the dogs will move to a specialist trainer, where they train for around 34 weeks to gain the skills they need. This includes three to five weeks of intensive work with their new owner. Every person and dog is unique, so matching a guide dog to an owner is a complex process and trainers have to take into account all a person’s needs, including their walking speed, height, and lifestyle. It does not end there; Guide Dogs is committed to providing support for the partnership and to the guide dog owner for as long as it is needed and a guide dog owner could have up to eight dogs in their lifetime. After between six and seven years’ service, a guide dog is retired and is re-homed.

Guide Dogs is a world leader in the breeding and training of guide dogs and is a co-founder of the International Guide Dog Federation. [1]

There are currently 4,500 working guide dog partnerships in the UK and more than 1,100 puppies are born each year. Guide dog owners only have to pay a nominal 50p for their dog to ensure no-one is prevented from having one due to a lack of funds and the full ‘lifetime cost’ of a guide dog from birth to retirement is £49,800. The guide dog service receives no government funding and so the charity is completely reliant on voluntary donations and legacy income.[2]

History

The first four British guide dogs - Judy, Flash, Folly and Meta - completed their training at Wallasey, Wirral in 1931, and three years after this The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was formed. This would not have been possible without the selfless work of Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond, German shepherd breeders who trained the first guide dogs. The first permanent trainer for Guide Dogs was Captain Nikolai Liakhoff, who came to England in 1933.

In 1956 Guide Dogs began to recruit volunteers to become puppy walkers. A few years later a breeding programme was introduced and by 1970 these components of Guide Dogs’ work had grown so much they were given their own premises at Tollgate House, near Leamington Spa. The most influential figure in the development of Guide Dogs’ puppy walking and breeding programmes was the late Derek Freeman MBE.[3]

In 1964, the charity’s work was introduced to a new generation when the children’s television programme Blue Peter launched an appeal to collect silver foil and milk bottle tops. Blue Peter raised enough to fund two guide dog puppies, Cindy and Honey, whom the programme followed through their training. This feature was repeated in the early 1980s and again in 2006 with Andy Akinwolere and puppy Magic.

In 2007 in conjunction with the BBC Breakfast programme, Guide Dogs' annual Guide Dog of the Year award recognised sterling achievements of individual guide dogs.[4]

Volunteering

Guide Dogs relies on many volunteers and there are over 48 different volunteering roles. Key roles filled by volunteers include puppy walking (where puppy walkers take a pup into their home for 12 to 14 months and help familiarise it with everyday sights and sounds), boarding (those who look after trainee guide dogs in the evenings and at weekends), breeding stock holders (those who look after the brood bitches and stud dogs), drivers, branch roles (such as branch treasurer or branch supporter), and fundraising.

Campaigning

Guide Dogs campaigns strongly on issues that restrict the freedom and independence of blind and partially-sighted people. Examples include campaigning for the inclusion of audio-visual equipment on buses, equal access to taxis, and encouraging service providers (such as shops, restaurants and banks) to provide a level of access and service that meets the needs of blind and partially-sighted people. Guide Dogs is also involved heavily in the current shared surfaces debate, as well as campaigning for safer streets, which involves working with local authorities, MPs and others to raise awareness of the problems caused by obstacles on our streets, which can cause real danger for blind and partially-sighted people.[5]

Research

Guide Dogs is one of the largest charitable funders of ophthalmic research in the UK and since 1990 has supported more than 100 separate projects, varying from epidemiological research into glaucoma to the identification of ‘repair’ cells that may be important in healing the damaged blood vessels in diabetic retinopathy.[6]

The current portfolio of projects that Guide Dogs supports includes studies into predicting the development of age-related cataracts, improving early detection of glaucoma, using drugs called statins to treat eye diseases associated with diabetes, and detecting and treating squints in children. [7]

Guide Dogs also carries out canine research to enhance the health, welfare, quality of life and performance of its dogs.

Guide Dog of the Year

'Guide Dog of the Year' is an annual awards event run by Guide Dogs. Its aim is to recognise the amazing and life-transforming work of the 4,500 guide dogs currently providing independence, confidence and freedom to their blind or partially-sighted owners around the UK. In 2009 the overall winner was Buster, a three-year-old golden retriever.

Guide Dog of 2011!!!!!! IS........ KRESTA the amazing Guide dog that was ever saw she was made guide dog of 2011 for these very reasons 1)She could play football. 2)She was very cute and will always be the most beautiful Guide dog. 3)She was loyal and willing and patient. But she wouldnt have been any of these things if it hadnt have been for her amazing trainer because she was patient and willing and never lost hope in her. So thank you x x x

References

  1. ^ International Guide Dog Federation Retrieved March 25, 2010
  2. ^ Guide Dogs facts, Retrieved March 25, 2010
  3. ^ History. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  4. ^ Guide dog of the year 2007, BBC News, March 22, 2007. Retrieved November 14, 2007.
  5. ^ Guide Dogs campaigns Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  6. ^ Guide Dogs research and funding Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  7. ^ Healthy Eyes website Retrieved March 25, 2010.

External links


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