My blindfold walk with Luther

Each year, during Guide Dogs Week, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association raises awareness of the everyday challenges that are faced by people living with sight loss.

To mark Guide Dogs Week from 4th to 12th October, Chad reporter Kevin Rogers took part in a blindfolded walk with Luther, a trainee guide dog.

PIC BY STEWART TURKINGTON'www.stphotos.co.uk'07778 334771

PIC BY STEWART TURKINGTON'www.stphotos.co.uk'07778 334771

Luthor a two year old Labrador-Golden Retriever cross, has been trained by Sara Eldrett, a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor based at Annesley.

Wearing a blindfold really brings it home How much we take sight for granted. It is strangely disconcerting to lose one of your senses.

Everything becomes amplified, the sounds of the world rush in cars across the road sound like they are right next to you.

Overcoming obstacles like cars parked on pavements are things that blind and partially sighted people have to deal with every single day.

And I was totally reliant on Luther to get me from A to B.

All you have is the sense that he is there and a lead and handle to transmit his movements.

Your balance goes and your feet suddenly seem to weigh twice as much.

You have no idea where you are what obstacles are in front of you or what is heading your way.

But he and Sara did a wonderful job of navigating me safely around a busy road and a car park.

Sara said: “It’s important to make sure the bond is built up in the first few days between the dog and the person.

“We match dogs to someone who is visually impaired and train them with that person until they can go out independently.

“We phone a prospective new owner from the waiting list and take them on a short walk with the dog to see if there is a potential match.”

The owners spend four weeks getting to know their canine companions before they are signed off for their life together.

There are more than 4,500 working guide dogs in the UK and 105 guide dog owners in Nottinghamshire of which seven live in Mansfield.

Guide Dogs breeds, trains and supports them throughout their life and make a life time commitment to guide dog owners.

They do not receive any Government funding and completely rely on the generosity of the public to support their work.

It costs around £50,000 to train and keep a guide dog throughout its life.

During Guide Dog Week people can “Donate an Hour” by hosting events, wearing bright colours to work or taking on a challenge, host a coffee morning, bake sale or party.

For details visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/GDW14 or text volunteer 84555.