Could you help train guide dogs?

PUBLISHED: 08:25 24 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:24 31 May 2010

COULD you help train guide dogs for blind people and then match them up to their new owners? The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has launched an apprenticeship scheme in which people train to become mobility instructors. This unique career involves t

COULD you help train guide dogs for blind people and then match them up to their new owners?

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has launched an apprenticeship scheme in which people train to become mobility instructors.

This unique career involves training guide dogs and matching them with blind or partially sighted people.

Guide dogs help to improve the lives of partially-sighted people by giving them back their independence.

The association's mobility instructor for East Anglia Andy Gatenby said: "An instructor's work is hard and demanding. It involves walking long distances almost every day in all conditions. However, this is clearly counterbalanced by the satisfaction of knowing you are making life changing differences to blind and partially sighted people."

The role of a guide dog mobility instructor involves taking trainee dogs through the final stages of training and then matching and training them with blind or partially sighted people."

Instructors work daily for up to four weeks with the dog and the blind or partially sighted owner, either at their home or from a hotel, preparing them for their new partnership.

After returning home the newly qualified guide dog owner is helped by visits from the instructor who will provide after care support as the bond between guide dog and owner develops.

Mr Gatenby said: "Our apprentices should have a desire to work with and train dogs and have experience of teaching, instructing or coaching either adults or young people.

"They need to be able to undertake academic study to diploma level and have a good standard of health and fitness as well as strong interpersonal skills. Also required is a willingness to travel extensively for training purposes and when visiting guide dog owners."

Guide Dogs believe that once someone has lost their sight, a guide dog can give back a degree of freedom that often feels little short of miraculous and that when it comes to mobility aids, these highly-trained and sensitive animals are second to none.

For over 70 years the association has been breeding and training guide dogs and has provided thousands of dogs to blind and partially-sighted people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Anyone interested in applying for an apprenticeship with guide dogs, or requiring further information, should visit the charity's website www.guidedogs.org.uk/jobs. Closing date for applications is April 2.

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