How a four-legged friend can make the world of difference

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, Woodford Trainer Alex Nash, with Leeon.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, Woodford Trainer Alex Nash, with Leeon. - Credit: Archant

For most of us, going to the shops, picking the kids up from school or even just going for a walk in the park are normal every day activities we don’t think twice about.

But for people who are partially sighted or blind, life is completely different and it’s a lot more difficult or even impossible to carry out such simple tasks.

However there are some helpful hounds at the Guide Dog Training School, Manor Road, Woodford Green, working to change things.

The Guide Dog Training School has been in Redbridge since 1986, and trains nearly 250 guide dogs each year, with 111 dogs at the school, trained and cared for by about 60 staff to help change lives in the borough. Tony Wakelin, 38, a senior guide dog trainer at the centre, said: “The dogs enable people to do every day tasks that we would take for granted. They give people the freedom and independence to do what they want, when they want and give them an element of choice.

On top of enabling partially sighted or blind people to do more the dogs also form strong bonds with their owners, Tony said: “They’re not just working dogs. They become part of the family because they are so close to their owner for so much of the time. They have a mutually loving and beneficial partnership which enriches the lives of both parties. The change in children’s lives is particularly rewarding as you can see the positive impact not just on the child but the whole family.”

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Guide Dogs UK started in 1931 when two women Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond organised the training of the first four British guide dogs in Wallasey, Merseyside and since then the charity has become the world’s largest breeder and trainer of working dogs.

It trains guide dogs and their owners and provides ongoing support and care to nearly 5,000 guide dogs partnerships in the UK.

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FFor more information contact Guide Dog Training School Redbridge, Findlay House, Manor Road, Woodford Green, IG8, Telephone: 0845 372 7421.

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