Meet Nick. The Fuss Free Phones Guide Dog. Through the work Fuss Free Phones has been doing with the RNIB we’ve got to meet a lot of guide dogs and they are great to be around.
Our work with blind people as Fuss Free Phones customers has taught me that while an easy to use phone with a personal service and telephonists can be a massive aid to independence there are other aspects of life that even a simple phone can’t solve.
The people who work with guide dogs describe them as a “mobility aid”.
The best known way this is done is Puppy Walking, and that’s what Emily, the telephonist you see on the right of this page with the caption “A Personal Touch”. She puppy walked a dog called Harley.
Nick is a bit older than a puppy walked dog. He’s been through ten weeks of training at The Guide Dogs association and is now in advanced training at its centre in Euston. I drop him off for school in the morning and then come to work at Fuss Free Phones which is ten minutes away. Then at the end of the day I pick him up and take him back to my home.
It means that I get to enjoy having a dog when I’m not at work and don’t have to worry about leaving him during the day. It does however mean that I’ll only be with him for a few months before he goes off to work with a client.
I’ve also got to realise that Nick can’t be treated the way I would a pet dog. He’s not allowed treats at the table, to scavenge for food, upstairs at home or to sit on the furniture. The blind client he goes to live with later may make different decisions but I’ve got to re-enforce the training the Guide dogs association gives him and that’s my little way of “putting something back”.
One of the advantages of having a guide dog in training is that I will be able to take him into places like shopping centres which usually band dogs. While they have to take guide dogs, a trainee, without a harness, is only allowed in under goodwill but who would turn down a cute Labrador?