Do you remember these adorable guide dog puppies? They are funded by the wonderful players of People’s Postcode Lottery from birth, through training, graduating as guide dogs and into retirement. People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador, Danyl Johnson, was lucky enough to meet them at the Guide Dogs National Centre in 2019 before they were due to live with their Puppy Raisers for the first year of their lives.
Despite challenges with training due to Covid, five of the puppies have now successfully qualified as a guide dog partnership. And one has had a career change, now living with a family as a buddy dog, helping a young vision impaired child with confidence and companionship.
Danyl recently had the opportunity to meet up with two of the dogs again who are now having a life-changing impact on their new owners, Fraser and Gwen.
Fraser, 38, was diagnosed in his mid-twenties with diabetic retinopathy. Having a profound impact on his confidence and independence, he would rarely leave the house for two years. Eventually, Fraser reached out for support and soon got introduced to accessible technology where, before long, he was volunteering to help other people with sight loss use technology. His first guide dog Mercer was the catalyst for Fraser setting up his own accessible technology charity, helping him to get out and about to provide in-person support. Unfortunately, after many years of a successful partnership, Mercer passed away during the Covid pandemic, and Fraser had to adapt his business to help people virtually.
However, Fraser has now qualified as a new guide dog partnership with Mabel, thanks to the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Mabel now supports him in getting out once again, visiting people who need a helping hand in learning how to use technology for a more independent lifestyle.
85-year-old Gwen worked as a nurse for most of her life with a committed career mainly in Orthopaedic care.
In retirement, Gwen’s sight started to deteriorate progressively. She was diagnosed with macular degeneration and has now been registered blind for three years. Having lived an independent life previously, working with and caring for people, Gwen lost all confidence in leaving her home.
For nearly a year, Gwen barely went out and consequently struggled with loneliness and isolation, particularly having lost her husband and living alone.
In April 2021, Gwen qualified as a guide dog partnership with player-funded guide dog Bella, who has made a real difference. Working together, Gwen has gained confidence to get out and about. She has her independence back and loves nothing better than to walk Bella in the woods and into town, where she can connect with friends and her local community.