On Friday 14 July I qualified with my new guide dog, Trigger. As those of you who have been following this blog will know I began training with Trigger on Monday 4 July which entailed a good deal of walking (as you would expect) together with obstacle avoidance, (the latter involved the Guide Dog Mobility Instructor setting up artificial obstacles on the pavement which Trigger and I had to avoid by stepping off the kerb, into the road and then returning to the pavement after having passed the obstacle).
Returning to my qualifying walk. I was, as you may well guess extremely nervous. Despite having done the self-same route many times I still had visions of Trigger and I getting lost! Fortunately all went smoothly and I was presented with my qualification pack by the head of the Inner London Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. The pack contains a number of items including:
A card which says “your help welcome” on both sides which can be held up by a guide dog owner who requires assistance.
A badge with the GDBA’s logo on it
A plastic pouch containing a number of cards including one stating that guide dogs are permitted access to restaurants and other premises (I’ve used this previously when challenged on attempting to enter a restaurant).
The qualification pack also contains a copy of the GDBA’s Ownership Agreement which sets out the relationship between the Association and the GDO.
I purchased Trigger for the grand sum of fifty pence. This is an excellent arrangement as it means that blind people, of whatever income can afford to buy a guide dog. In the event of the dog retiring (and going to live with another person) the Association repurchases the guide dog for the same price.
Contrary to what many people I’ve spoken to appear to think Guide Dogs derives all it’s income from charitable donations with no funds being provided by either the government or local authorities (I’m amazed by the number of people who seem to believe that guide dogs are provided by the government)!
I’m pleased to report that my four legged friend continues to work well and I’ll continue to post about him here from time to time.