Year 7 Guide Dogs UK Visit & Cheque Presentation 22.06.18

We welcomed Steve with Java and Anne with Poppy, from Guide Dogs UK to the year 7 assembly.

They both talked to the pupils about the valuable work that Guide Dogs UK do, the life of a Guide Dog and how they work with their owners.

Steve, who is sighted and volunteers for Guide Dogs UK, started by asking the girls if they knew how to behave around all dogs and then told them all to close their eyes and imagine trying to do all the things they normally do when they get up in the morning, without being able to see.

He told the girls about his dog Java, who was a retired ‘brood bitch’ and had 22 puppies in her life that will hopefully all go on to be working Guide Dogs.

He went on to say that the puppies stay with their mother until they are 6 weeks old, then go to the Guide Dogs Centre at  Leamington Spa for assessment, before they go off to live with a family to get used to being socialised until they are one year old. They then return to Leamington Spa for their training. He said that most dogs are Labrador Retrievers, but also some are German Shepherds and more recently Labradoodles are being trained and they are ideal for people with allergies as don’t malt.

Steve also told the pupils some important facts such as Guide Dogs UK pay for the all the training, the food, harnesses, vets bills and all related expenses in the life of a working Guide Dog. He also told them that it is illegal to not permit a Guide Dog into vehicles such as taxis and buses or into cafes or shops etc.

The most important thing that a dog brings to it’s owner is helping give them some independence back after losing their sight.

Anne told year 7 that she had been born with poor sight after her mum contracted German Measles during her pregnancy. It slowly deteriorated further and after she was married decided to apply to have a Guide Dog. So, in 1996, after a lengthy application and an interview to see if she was suitable, she met her first dog, Jumble, and had to stay at the training centre for three weeks to get used to her and to learn how to work with her and trust her. Anne demonstrated putting the harness onto Poppy, so she knows she’s working. She went on to show how she is guided by the movement of the harness that moves with Poppy. Anne described her sight as like being in a permanent snow storm. She has had two dogs since Jumble; Annabelle and now Poppy.  Anne said the dogs are her best friends, her guide and her sat nav!

Year 7 had lots of questions to ask them both:

‘what happens when you take a dog on a plane?’ – Anne said when she flew to Ireland, her dog got her own seat, which is what normally happens, but her dog sat under the seat instead.
‘Is there a waiting list?’ Yes – Steve answered that there is a long list as not only are there new requests for a dog all the time, there are also the people who already have dogs, that need a replacement dog when theirs retire.
Then we had a very important question to Anne that apparently they get asked all the time, but did make everyone laugh – ‘Do you have to pick up dog poo?’ – Anne explained that they aren’t required to do this but she does try sometimes. Steve added that generally they try to train the dogs to have an area in their gardens where they go regularly and usually before they go out with their owner.
They were also asked what happens to the dogs when they retire and Steve said that they sometimes stay with the owner as a pet but often are adopted by another family as a pet.The final question ‘How much are the costs of a Guide Dog throughout it’s working lifetime?’ Steve said it was estimated at £50,000.
This reiterated the importance of the fundraising that year 7 do, so it was fantastic to then be able to present them with a cheque for £976.39 and tell Steve and Anne how they raised it. The pupils organised so many events in the spring term such as a car wash, raffles, a fair, sponsored runs, cakes sales, breakfast sales and a guess the number of sweets in a jar competition.

Year 7 have done fantastically well and we are very proud of them. It was lovely to be able to welcome Steve and Anne in to hear more about the Guide Dogs and to present them such a big cheque!

To find out more about the Guide Dogs, their training centre and how to donate, please click HERE