Celebrating the role of the Guide Dog during World Blindness Awareness Month

This month is World Blindness Awareness Month, an annual initiative to help the public understand the realities of visual impairment, and how it affects those living without sight.

According to the NHS, there are almost 2 million people in the UK living with sight loss, of whom 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted.

Visual impairment can affect anyone, regardless of age, as the causes range from diabetes to genetic eye conditions. No matter the cause, blindness and visual impairment significantly impacts day-to-day life, and many rely on guide dogs to help with mobility, work and enjoying activities and pastimes.

Leading pet insurer PetGuard, who insure many assistance and support dogs, wanted to use the opportunity to celebrate the incredible work that guide dogs, and the charities that train them, do for some of the 360,000 people who are registered blind or partially sighted in the UK.

Head of Marketing at petGuard, Alex Bennett said: “Guide dogs provide unwavering support for those who need it, and it feels only right that we highlight the amazing work that these dogs do as part of Blindness Awareness Month, as a way of saying thank you for their service, and for those who train them.”

He added, “It is not just a matter of helping with everyday tasks – they are intelligent, gentle companions helping to relieve the sense of isolation that can come with sight loss.”

The vital role of assistance dogs

Guide dogs play an important role in the lives of people they assist. According to Guide Dogs UK, there are three breeds that are most used in their programme – Labradors, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds. Standard Poodles are also well suited to the tasks of an assistance dog, although there are fewer on the programme.

From new born puppy to retirement, the life of a guide dog goes through several stages. Before they meet their future handler, all guide dog puppies undergo special training at one of four national training schools. Once the pups successfully graduate from their training, they’re paired with their future handler. The matching process takes the dogs’ character, temperament, and the lifestyle of the handler into account to find the perfect fit!

Afterwards, the guide dog will usually complete two weeks of training away from their future home with their handler, followed by another three weeks of training at the handler’s home.

PetGuard is delighted to support the great work of the guide dog charities, and new customers receive a 20% discount off their first year of cover for dogs that assist a human companion, and have been trained under the guidance of a member of Assistance Dogs UK, a coalition of assistance dog organisations.

You can find out more about guide dogs here.