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An exclusive new series on the work
of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is very pleased to join Our Dogs in presenting a monthly feature for inclusion in the paper. Although I have (perhaps) foolishly offered to be the main contributor, other members of staff and even some of our volunteers will also be approached to tap their many years’ experience with dogs.

Since its inception in the 1930s, Guide Dogs has continued to grow and we now breed over one thousand puppies a year to be placed with puppy walkers throughout the UK. It is my firm belief that the qualities we strive for are virtually identical to those that any reader would wish from a dog: a dog that is as sound physically and temperamentally as is possible… It really does not make any difference if that dog is then intended for show, work or even as a pet.

Therefore, the problems that we face each day are shared with all breeders and owners of dogs - irrespective of their dog’s role in life.

Guide Dogs is totally financed by the generosity of the public. Over the years, we have received tremendous support from individuals and groups involved in the ‘dog world’. We owe them all, past and present, an enormous debt of gratitude. We feel that we should, in return, be able to freely share our knowledge with all those who enjoy the company of dogs.

We do endeavour not to work in isolation and have daily contact with other charities connected with dogs. Of course we are also in touch with police dog sections, veterinary surgeons, specialist hospitals and, naturally, many breeders.

For instance, the Kennel Club has been extremely helpful and we recently introduced their Good Citizen Scheme throughout Guide Dogs which has proved to be beneficial to both parties.

 

Following initial discussions between Guide Dogs and Bill Tynan MP, and a lot of hard work by a coalition consisting of Guide Dogs, the Kennel Club, Blue Cross, RSPCA, SSPCA, NCDL, Battersea Dogs Home, National Dog Wardens Association, Wood Green Animal Shelter, Pro-Dogs, Pet Care Trust and, last but certainly not least, Cats Protection League, a bill is progressing through Parliament which, hopefully, should place restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks. This is an excellent example of like-minded groups coming together for the benefit of all!

So often, we are all guilty of fighting our own corner instead of providing a united front. This can actually be very destructive as, after all, we all share a common interest in improving the lot of dogs and their owners, whether disabled or not.

The key to success lies in sharing knowledge, working together and also, I believe, being sure of facts and being totally honest about any problems.

The ‘dog world’ is certainly not unique in being rife with rumours, innuendoes and, at times, unnecessary unpleasantness. But it undoubtedly contains vast amounts of good will and a desire to share knowledge and solve problems.

Also, I am delighted to say it still has its fair share of ‘characters’ - several of whom write for Our Dogs!

As the months progress, I hope that you will find our contributions helpful and entertaining. Please feel free to provide feedback. (I shall use fellow columnist Mr Killick as a consultant in dealing with the more awkward situations!)

Neil Ewart neil.ewart@guidedogs.org.uk