On the 12th of April 2023 the Youth Trainers, Barking Buds Team and their parents took a trip to Guide Dog UK’s National Centre for a tour around their facilities. We went as a group of 35 which got us a discount on tickets but normally the tour costs £15 for the public.
We started off with a safety, introductory talk from the Guide Dog Volunteers and then we were split into three groups to make sure we all get to see the sites of the centre. We all started in different sections but first up for my group we spoke about the canes that the blind use to help navigate the world if they do not have their guide dog or are unable to use their dog of a specific day. We were taught about how they are used and were given the opportunity to try this so we can appreciate how people with little to no sight feel. Our guide next spoke to use about Guide Dog’s next programme for sighted guides. This is for those who are unable to have a dog. This programme trains volunteers how to talk/guide a blind person out and about and helps build trusted partnerships.
The next section on our tour we we taken to the sensory tunnel. This area you walk through and use your hands, feet and ears to navigate yourself through the tunnel without your sight. There were lots of different surfaces to touch and feel and it really forces you to heighten your sense of touch and hearing further. The tour guides were also COVID savvy and everyone had their own blindfold.
The next section of the tour took us through all the different puppy sections at the centre. Pre whelping, Post whelping and the section they go into before they go off to the puppy raisers. We were given so many facts about the puppies and the process that the centre goes through to make sure the welfare of their dogs are high. From high end puppy pens to make sure the dogs have space to move to around the clock monitoring to make sure they are happy and healthy. Each section was so clean and the puppies even had Classical FM on to listen to.
They also went on to explain the structure of the building and how to roofs were used to collect rain water and recycle to wash to blankets etc in the puppy pens to the dogs having underfloor heating. Every section of the venue was full of grass apart from their isolation area.
Moving from there we went to talk about their harnesses. These are all built on sight and are made from leather. There is also a vegan options! The soft leather allows the dogs to guide their owners comfortably without any sores. Finally we went through to the room we started in and had tea and biscuits. This was a great way to have time to speak to the volunteers if we had any questions as well as visiting the Guide Dog Goody Shop. There are so many thing to buy and our community definitely all got something!
We would definitely recommend this experience to everyone! It is a great afternoon out where you can learn about the charity and the hard work that keeps the company going.