Trainee guide dogs go back to school in Exeter

A guide dog sits on the beach in between two people. He has a yellow and white harness on.

After a three-month break due to the Covid-19 outbreak, trainee guide dogs have been able to re-start their training in the south west, getting them ready to become life-changing guides.

In March, sight loss charity Guide Dogs closed its local training teams in line with Government advice, which meant around 55 trainee guide dogs across the region had to take a break.

The dogs were boarded full-time with local volunteers and all training with the local community team, based in Marsh Barton, was stopped.

Thanks to the easing of restrictions, Guide Dogs has now been able to start training in and around their sites, whilst ensuring social distancing.

Simon Lynn, Canine Assisted Services Manager for Guide Dogs in the south west, said: “Trainee guide dogs have become a familiar sight in and around the local area, so it’s fantastic to see dogs back out and about training again.

“Our dogs will continue to be taught to guide their handler around obstacles and people, but their understanding of social distancing is limited, so we’ll need the general public to support us with keeping a safe distance.”

“We would also like to say thank you and recognise the efforts of our volunteer boarders who have cared for our dogs full time while training was paused. We are really appreciative of all our volunteers who make our work possible.”

A guide dog begins their training at around 12-14 months old with a guide dog trainer. In normal circumstances, most dogs qualify as working guide dogs by the age of two.

Although dog training has resumed, Guide Dogs’ community centres remain closed to the public.

To donate to Guide Dogs, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/donate-now

The Exeter Daily