May 18 2010 by Johnathon Menzies, Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
A PROMINENT disability charity yesterday called on Perthshire seniors to consider befriending a guide dog.
Pamela Munro, who works as an information officer across Scotland for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, said the group were working hard to dispel myths often associated with their work.
The Forfar-based development worker said older adults’ quality of life can be boosted by having a reliable four-legged friend.
“A guide dog can offer a unique, safe and effective way for a person to increase their independence and confidence,” said Ms Munro. “You don't need to have lost all your sight to be eligible – most people who own a guide dog still have some vision, and you don't have to be formally registered as blind or partially-sighted either.
“There is no upper age limit. People in their seventies, eighties and even nineties become successful guide dog owners.
“All essential equipment and training is provided by us, and we can also cover the cost of vet bills and dog food if people wish.
“No previous experience of keeping a dog is necessary.
“Providing you are committed and able to work with, support and care for a guide dog, then our training will be all they need to know.”
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was founded in 1931 and employs 1000 staff throughout the UK, ably supported by 10,000 volunteers.
The potentially life-changing service costs the owner a nominal fee of just 50p. Mrs Munro continued: “It’s not just about improving mobility, a guide dog and its owner exist as a partnership – and the companionship, loyalty and fun that each partner brings to this relationship can be rewarding.
“A person’s health and well-being can be improved, as they are now getting out-and-about and not having to rely on others.
“Their confidence builds, and they can suffer less from mental health problems, such as depression.”
For more information visit the charity’s website www.guidedogs.org.uk, or call 0845 372 7499.