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A dog in need is a friend indeed

It's not just young children with sight loss that can benefit from a buddy dog - older teens, like Adam, can also receive support.


13 November 2023

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Sam is Adam’s best pal. Like all good friends, he’s there when he needs him most. Always looking out for him, having fun, cheering him up when he’s feeling down.  

And Adam knows how lucky he is to have someone like Sam in his life – because Adam has sight loss and Sam is his buddy dog – provided by the Guide Dogs charity and funded thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. 

“He has changed my life for the better,” beams Sam, from East Lothian. 

Adam lost a quarter of his eyesight at the age of three after contracting meningitis. It led to other health conditions such as epilepsy, and although he adapted well to his sight loss, he became more insular and isolated as he reached his teens. 

It was at this point that Adam’s family first heard about Guide Dogs buddy service. 

Buddy dogs are former trainee guide dogs that have had a career change. They are pet dogs who support children and young people in building confidence and trust and provide companionship. During the time that Adam’s family applied for a buddy dog, the service was fully funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. 

In December 2021, when Adam was aged 18, Guide Dogs introduced the family to yellow Labrador cross golden retriever Sam. There was an immediate bond between Adam and Sam. Frank, Adam’s dad, said: “Having Sam has transformed every facet of our family. Adam has a dog he looks after, which has increased his confidence and independence.” 

In 2022, Adam suffered a health setback. His condition caused several seizures, which compromised his central nervous system. He was in severe pain, needing hospital treatment, and was confined to a wheelchair for a couple of months. During this time, Sam would rest his head on Adam to try and comfort him. Frank said, “Without Sam’s friendship throughout that period, Adam would be significantly more damaged. Sam provides an emotional point for Adam to anchor himself to. And physically, he’s also better off now being more mobile.” 

Speaking about Sam, Adam said: “He’s changed my life for the better. When I was unwell, he helped by just being there for me and comforting me. We always say that getting Sam is the best thing we’ve ever done.” 

Robbie Campbell, Buddy Dog Service Lead at Guide Dogs commented: “The difference in Adam since having Sam is incredible. Adam has really come out of his shell and has more confidence. He’s also more active from going on walks with Sam, which is great for his physical and mental wellbeing.” 

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised more than £6 million for Guide Dogs since 2018, helping them transform lives through numerous projects and services just like the buddy dogs’ service.  

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We are delighted that players have been able to support such a wonderful Guide Dogs service. It's great to know that buddy dogs provide children and young people with sight loss like Adam much-needed emotional support and build confidence and trust at such a crucial stage in their lives.”