Guide Dog Assembly
On Tuesday 15th May we were very lucky to have some special visitors in school. Mr and Mrs Brown came with some of their friends; Adam, Sarah and Yardley.
Adam is 1 year old Labrador Retriever and is a Guide Dog Puppy. This means that he has been living with Mr & Mrs Brown learning some very important things...
Mrs and Mrs Brown are 'Volunteer Guide Dog Puppy Walkers', they have looked after Adam for the first year of his life.
As well as teaching him to sit, lay, stay and walk on a lead, they have also taken Adam on some special trips.
The role of a Guide Dog Puppy Walker is to get the puppy used to different environments; homes, busy town centres, quiet country lanes and public transport, to experience all the sights, sounds and smells they may encounter as a fully qualified guide dog.
Then when the puppy is 12 - 14 months old, they leave their 'Puppy Walker' and go to 'Guide Dog Training School' where they learn the skills to guide a blind or partially sighted person.
It will soon be Adam's time to move onto the next stage of his training.
Nearing the end of his training he will then be introduced to his owner and they will complete the last stages of his training together.
A Guide Dog usually works for approximately 7 years, after which they become pets, either with their owner, puppy walker or a loving family.
Adam is friends with Yardley, a black Labrador Retriever who has been Sarah's Guide Dog for 2 years.
Yardley stays close to Sarah, sitting quietly and waiting to help when she is needed.
Sarah explains that she has a long white stick which can help her to find her way around, but unfortunately the stick does not guide her around obstacles and in the past she has bumped into things.
Also Sarah told the children that she feels silly talking to and stroking the stick and that it is not very good company.
So Yardley not only helps Sarah walk around and not bump into things, she also helps by stopping at the side of a road and waiting until it is safe to cross.
"Find a door" is one command that can be used, this tells Yardley that Sarah wants to go into a building, get on a bus or train, so Yardley leads Sarah to and through a doorway.
To help guide Sarah, Yardley wears a special harness.
Guide Dog Puppies wear a blue jacket to let people know they are a special dog but also to get them used to wearing something, ready for their harness.
The harness that Yardley wears is slightly different from others you may have seen.
The rigid handle that Sarah holds onto is not the common U shape, it narrows just below the handle to enable Sarah to rest her leg. As Sarah is totally blind this gives her and Yardley more control, she can feel every movement that Yardley makes. Yardley's harness is fluorescent, so she can be seen in the dark.
Four Year 2 children agreed to take part in an experiment. Two were blindfolded so they could not see anything and the other two were human guide dogs.
The human guide dogs had to lead their blind friend into the hall through a doorway, around all the children and adults, to a table with two chairs. It was interesting to watch and listen as the guide dogs lead the way, one also gave verbal 'left' and 'right' instructions.
Once our blind volunteers were seated they then tried to butter a scone, adding jam and cream. It was a very messy task, as the only way to find things was by the sense of touch, so fingers got very sticky. The table also had a coating of butter, jam and cream because it is very difficult to keep the jam on the knive and place it ontop of the scone.
When asked at the end "How did they find their little exercise?"
They explained that it was very difficult because they did not know where anything was. They were glad they took part but did not think it was fun.
We would like to thank our four volunteers for their help.
During the assembly it was explained to the children that when they see a guide dog with their owner they should not touch or speak to the dog as this could distract them from their work and mean that the blind person is also confused.
Yardley and Adam sat very calmly at the doorways leading from the hall, giving the children, and adults, the opportunity to stroke them at the end of the assembly.
The children who did not wish to stroke the dogs left the hall through a different doorway.
We would like to say a big thankyou to Mr and Mrs Brown, Adam, Sarah and Yardley, for giving up their time to come into school and tell us about guide dogs.
If you would like some more details please use the link to visit the Guide Dogs website - http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/.
Outside each classroom you will see a bucket marked 'Guide Dogs Collection'. If you have any change that you would like to donate, we will be collecting until Friday 22nd June.