Knowsley Council received a special visitor in the lead up to Christmas. Comet, a newly qualified guide dog spent a few days at the council’s Huyton offices while awaiting deployment to his new ‘forever’ home.
Comet has spent the last nine months in the care of volunteer guide dog boarders Andrew McDonald and Christine Lobley, who both work for Knowsley Council.
“Guide dogs need to be boarded as it’s really important that they spend plenty of time in the company of people. Whilst I had boarded guide dogs in the past it’s the first time for Christine and we’ve both found it so rewarding. Although it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to Comet, we know he’s going on to fulfil an important job that will change someone’s life.”
Volunteer boarders look after the trainee guide dogs during evenings and weekends as they undergo their early training, which can take between 16 and 26 weeks. During this part of their training, the dogs are introduced to a harness and learn the basics of guiding which includes: leading a person in a straight line without pulling, stopping and sitting at changes in the ground level such as kerbs and steps, and avoiding street obstacles.
Gaynor Monaghan, Volunteer Consultant for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association Merseyside and Cheshire said:
“Each year we train up to 65 dogs and we always need volunteer boarders to help support us in this process. Guide dogs are not like normal pets, we need people who can give their time, commit to the process and take instruction in order to develop them into the best guide dogs they can be.”
Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of the council said:
“This is an incredible initiative and one that the council wholeheartedly supports. We currently have three volunteer boarders working in the council and we’re more than happy to support our workforce in carrying out these valuable roles which give so much back to the community.”