Why becoming a 'puppy walker' can change lives

Why becoming a 'puppy walker' can change lives
Press reporter Zoe Shackleton continues her interview with blind campaigner Lindsey Moore, who faces a long wait to be matched with another guide dog ... 

LINDSEY MOORE’S life changed for the better when she was paired with her beloved guide dog Charlotte six years ago.

But now the 48-year-old professional singer from Gomersal faces a potentially long wait to be allocated another guide dog following the death of Charlotte last month after a short battle with lymphoma.

Despite having a guide dog for such a long time, Lindsey explained she’ll be at the bottom of the waiting list for another – because so many others are in line before her.

Lindsey, who has raised thousands of pounds for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association since being diagnosed with a degenerative condition 20 years ago, said: “Unfortunately there are so many people diagnosed with sight loss that there is quite a high demand on the services.

“I have to be reassessed again just to see that nothing has changed in my medical status, and they can come out and assess where I live.”

One of the main reasons Morley-born Lindsey will have to wait so long is due to a shortage of ‘puppy walkers’ in her local area. Guide dogs need volunteers – puppy walkers – to train them in their early years.

Lindsey said: “They prepare the dogs for every situation that somebody like myself would encounter on a daily basis. They get them used to shops, buses, trains, shopping centres, get them used to sounds in the home.

“These people are volunteers and because we have a shortage of puppy walkers I think it might have a bit of a knock-on effect.”

She explained hers and husband Craig’s decision to apply for a guide dog all those years ago, and how it will now affect her everyday life as she waits to be paired with another companion.

“Getting Charlotte in the first place was a huge decision anyway, because 12 years from being diagnosed I didn’t want anyone to know,” said Lindsey.

“When I first applied I waited 14 months. It’s a lengthy process because they have to assess where you live … and how I walk, they match the dog on your walking speed and lifestyle.”

She added: “It’s hard because obviously there’s the emotional side because I’m still coming to terms with the sudden loss of Charlotte and friends are great, but with Charlotte she would assess the situation, she would know whether it was safe to take me down a pavement.

“She would be able to see obstacles and with the long cane you can only really know there’s an obstacle there when you’ve hit it.

“With Charlotte she would already have got me safely round the obstacle. I don’t like using the cane but I’ve got to use it to keep up my independence.

“It’s just not the same, when I had Charlotte it was so much more than having a guide dog, it was about the companionship.

“When we used to go out shopping it was fun, whereas now people don’t see a cane they just want to walk all over you and it’s a bit daunting.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer puppy walker can find out more at www.guidedogs.org.uk.

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