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Training your own guide dog

Posted Oct 21 2008 12:00am
Have you ever thought about training your own guide dog? It sounds like hard work, but lots of people do it. The website Blind cool tech has a number of podcasts about guide dogs, and a few about people who have trained their own dogs. I was particularly interested in Jerry Gilbert’s podcast as he is from the UK. Curiosity got the better of me, and I had to contact him to find out more information.

Jerry Gilbert lives near Cambridge, and has had no vision since the age of five. He works as an assistive technology trainer for a charity for visually impaired people. He trained with two guide dogs from GDBA in the UK, and they both worked successfully for many years. After a third match with a dog didn’t work out he decided to train his own. He had a vague recollection of someone in the UK training their own dog, but little information about this. He decided to give it a go anyway.
Charlie is a Labrador poodle cross, also known as a labradoodle. The breed was chosen after a lot of research. Jerry told me that Charlie is excellent at the guiding part of guide dog work, but still extremely lively, and not so good at sitting quietly and relaxing. He is very intelligent, and can open doors and cupboards, even with locks on them! He has lots of toys, and likes to be kept very active all day. Jerry feels he could have focused more on obedience work when Charlie was younger. Still, this is a braver step than most guide dog owners, and I’m sure Jerry can be very proud of the results!

Check out Jerry’s podcast on blind cool tech by looking for the podcast entitled ‘owner trained dog’

Currently listening to: Ray D’arsey on today fm
Currently reading: just finished ‘the horse whisperer’ by Nicholas Evans. It was so good I read the 8 braille volumes in about 10 days.
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