Irish Guide Dogs call on more people in Tipperary to take up the Guide Dog programme

To mark World Sight Day on Thursday 10th October, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind would like to invite more people who are vision impaired in the Tipperary region to consider training with a Guide Dog or access its Orientation and Mobility (Long Cane) Training programme.

“There are many vision impaired people in Ireland today who are completely dependent on their relatives or friends for getting out and about. Because they have not had access to training and support with their mobility they rarely leave home alone,” said Padraig Mallon, CEO of Irish Guide Dogs. “This can be very isolating and lonely. We want to get the message out there that we can provide support to them and getting access to independent living skills, long cane training or a Guide Dog is a positive doable experience that can be the difference between existing and really living your life.”

Currently 172 people have a Guide Dog in Ireland with an average of 40 Guide Dog Partnerships created each year. There are 5 people with a Guide Dog in Tipperary.

“People think a Long Cane or a Guide Dog may not be for them. They may fear the responsibility might outweigh any potential advantages,” continued Mallon. “They also may worry that having a dog marks them out as being different to other people and brands them as someone who has a disability. In our almost 40 years of experience however we have found universally positive response to having a Guide Dog, particularly from people who didn’t consider themselves ‘dog’ people or who simply thought it wasn’t for them.”

While Irish Guide Dogs operates a waiting list for its Guide Dog programme, given the holistic matching service between dog and person, people who apply for a Guide Dog may get a dog within 6-12 months, depending on location, routes, temperament and proficiency.

“The assessment and matching process are very important elements of our work,” said Deirdre Moriarty, Acting Operations Manager with Irish Guide Dogs. “Everything is assessed to ensure the dog is completely suitable for the person; we provide a very holistic, person-centred service.

“Having a Guide Dog can make a huge difference to a person who is visually impaired; it gives them back their independence and allows them to get around safely.”

Facts on the Guide Dog Programme

There are many myths and assumptions about who is and isn’t eligible for the Guide Dog Programme. Here are the facts:

–          Irish Guide Dogs work with people who have a range of visual impairments. People do not have to be completely blind to train with a dog. All services are provided free of charge, including a three-week residential training programme with the dog in the charity’s HQ in Cork.

–          The lower age limit is 16 and there is no upper age limit for getting a Guide Dog.

–          Irish Guide Dogs also provide a range of other training and mobility programmes, including training with a lone cane and independent living skills. It also provides Assistance Dogs to children with autism.

–          Call the LoCall number 1850 506300 for more information.

Case Study

When Mary Murphy, 60, became blind she never thought she would become a Guide Dog owner. “I am absolutely petrified of dogs and always have been. The idea of working with a dog terrified me” said the Cork resident.

With the help of Irish Guide Dogs, she successfully trained with her first Guide Dog Sophie in 2001 and it opened up a new world of independence and mobility for her. Although Mary is still scared of other dogs, she has developed a profound level of trust in her Guide Dog and is now working with her second dog, Polly.

Mary lost her sight through Retinal Detachments, losing the sight in one eye in a camogie match at a young age and, later in life, when she banged her head in her office while working as an engineer with Aer Lingus. Mary’s story is living proof there are no barriers to becoming a Guide Dog owner for anybody with vision impairments.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.