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Paw-some idea! Youngsters ‘Test Drive a Guide Dog’

We’ve held our first ever ‘Test Drive a Guide Dog’ workshop in Western Australia, for youngsters who may be considering a Guide Dog when they’re a bit older.

A back view of a Guide Dog instructor and a teenager walking along a corridor at VisAbility.
The teenagers were shown the best way to handle a Guide Dog

Seven teenagers aged between 14 and 18 took part in the event held at VisAbility over the school holidays and all of them had some form of vision impairment. The ‘Test Drive a Guide Dog’ (TDGD) workshop offered youngsters an insight on what it is like having a Guide Dog, and get a better understanding of how it could help with their mobility skills and future career opportunities.

Guide Dogs – opening up opportunities

There are many associated benefits of having a Guide Dog which goes beyond improving mobility. It includes providing greater independence, confidence, companionship, and increased social interaction.

Three mobility instructors led the workshop. Topics such as grooming, dog psychology, and ownership responsibilities were all covered. The teenagers learnt commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘heel’ and were able to walk them in their harnesses.

A grant funded the workshop from the Department of Education’s Non-Government Centre Support Fund. The award of this grant enhances VisAbility’s commitment to providing better information opportunities.

The verdict

Stewart, Cheezel, Winston and Loui enjoyed the workshop and showed impeccable good behaviour.

16-year-old Tegan Reder, who is legally blind is currently on a junior pathway to compete in Paralympic swimming and can’t wait to have a dog when she is older.

Tegan sits with a Guide Dog in its harness
Tegan enjoyed her ‘Test drive a Guide Dog’ experience

A Guide Dog would give me greater independence and lead to a social life which matched my older sister’s. It would mean I could easily catch up with friends, plus it would be a great companion.

Tegan Reder

“It’s exciting to think I can soon have a Guide Dog in a few years, so I can rely less on a walking cane. It’s a fabulous workshop and I ‘d recommend it to others.”

If you’d like to find out more about this program and Guide Dogs please email Jenny.Gleeson@guidedogswa.com.au