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ON THIS DAY

09 Feb 12. Scottish War Blinded Welcomes a New Four Legged Member. A former Guide Dog has recently joined Scottish War Blinded members as Scotland’s first buddy dog for adults. The buddy dog scheme is run by Guide Dogs for the Blind and allows former Guide Dogs to use their skills in a less demanding environment. The scheme has previously only provided buddy dogs for children however five year old Oates, a black Labrador, has joined The Linburn Centre as the first buddy dog to be used with adults. The scheme makes use of dogs that have been fully trained but are no longer suited to working as a guide dog. Oates’s previous owner for example become very ill and therefore a lack of exercise and work experience meant that he had grown distant from his guide dog training and had developed some bad habits. It was therefore decided that Oates was no longer a suitable guide dog.
Deb Hiscox, Guide Dog Mobility Assistant, said; “Oates is so ideal for the role of a buddy dog, he has a very calm temperament and copes well around lots of people. You can see the effect of having a dog and the difference a dog can make to people’s lives is amazing. It’s a great opportunity for members who maybe couldn’t own their own dog to experience being around one.”
Oates’s new home will be with Sheila Mutch, Deputy Manager at the centre although during working hours he will be cared for collectively by staff and members. Members will have the opportunity to walk, play, feed and groom him and Deb will be making regular visits over the next few months to ensure that members and staff are equipped with the knowledge to do this.
Sheila said: “Oates is still getting used to being here, and the members are still getting used to him but it seems to be going well. Some members are dog lovers themselves and are really enjoying having a four legged friend around.”
Despite the benefits of having a dog in the workplace, Sheila is ensuring that the whole centre is aware of the responsibilities of owning a dog. She says; “He has settled into home life well, it feels like he’s always been there! But it is important to remember that Oates is a buddy dog for the whole centre, not just for me”
Shelia adds; “He’ll quite happily chase a ball up and down the corridor, and at home it feels like he’s always been there.”

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