It isn’t every day that animals are allowed into School but an exception was made for a very special four-legged visitor, gentle-giant, Carl the guide dog, who came to see us with his owner, Anne.
Anne explained to the children what it is like to be blind and some of the challenges she faces on a day to day basis. She spoke above how Golden retriever X Labrador, Carl, helps her live a normal life, leading her safely across the road and taking her to places she needs to go as well as being her closest companion. She told us about the valuable work of Guide Dogs UK and how she came to be paired with her beloved Carl. Anne showed us Carl’s harness and demonstrated that when the handle is up it means he is working and needs to concentrate and when it is down he can be approached. She explained the way Carl has been trained and gave the children some tips on how to behave around guide dogs and how best to offer support to a blind person if they ask for help.
The children had a lot of questions for Anne and she was more than happy to answer them, Carl lying placidly at her feet the whole time, conserving his energy, as trained. We learned that Carl has never tasted meat to discourage him from begging in restaurants, that he can toilet on command, that it costs £56,000 from birth to retirement to train and maintain a guide dog and that there are only ever 5000 working guide dogs in the country at one time.
Everyone was fascinated to hear about Anne and Carl’s heart-warming friendship and just to top the morning off the children were invited to come and enjoy some Carl cuddles. We don’t know who was more thrilled, them, or Carl!