A Wonderful Saturday Morning: Guide Dogs for the Blind Training Centre

So, my parents came up for a few days this weekend, coming from a sleepy town in Bedfordshire they’re fairly frequent visitors to explore the hustle and bustle of Leamington Spa!

Despite the gloomy weather, our visit to the Leamington Guide Dogs for the Blind Training Centre was absolutely wonderful and definitely worth a visit. The free tour runs every first Saturday and Thursday of the month – Saturday morning at 10am and Thursday afternoon at 2pm.

The tour lasts approximately two hours, this includes a tour around the training facilities, kennels, the dogs exercise playground and the UK’s only Guide Dogs charity shop! The tour started off with an introduction from some of the wonderful volunteers that support the charity in various ways, from Guide Dog Puppy Walkers who look after the dogs in the first year of their lives to My Guide volunteers who take those who have lost their sight out for the day if they’re unable to have a guide dog.

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The tour quickly moved on to meeting some of the wonderful talented dogs in the training centre, a large room transformed into a busy street-like scene to simulate all the obstacles a dog might face when guiding their owner down the road. We then got an opportunity to meet the doggies and take a blindfolded guided walk by a volunteer. After forty minutes or so we were off to the kennels to meet some fluffy teenagers, including the lovely Horatio who loved nothing more than to chew his squeaky toy and Sylvester, the chunky feline resident that has taken a liking to the dog’s food cupboard! Quickly visiting the outdoor dog playground also (it was very wet!), we learnt about the breeds of guide dogs, how they’re matched to their owner and their life in and after the training centre.

 

The tour then took us to the Guide Dogs charity shop – a small little outfit full of wonderful knick-knacks (where I picked up a swanky pair of black Topshop dungarees!) and adorable guide dog teddy bears. After this we had tea and biscuits to help us all warm up, then rounded off with a little quiz and presentation on the ways we can help support the charity.

The tour is completely free, but after two hours of wonderful (not to mention, free!) hospitality, it’s only right to support their incredibly cause, right? There are multiple ways to support Guide Dogs including a one-off donation – through sponsoring a puppy for as little as £1 a week, to fundraising through a tea party or by playing the Guide Dogs Lucky Lottery! I for one have sponsored the beautiful Poppy so I can watch her whilst she grows into a wonderful guide dog that’ll change the life of her owner.

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The day was wonderful, no doubt about it. I would thoroughly recommend going! A word of warning, the tours are extremely popular and you’ll need to book in advance (I booked in mid September last year for yesterday) but please don’t let that put you off, book in advance and make a day of it with your family – Leamington and Warwick is wonderful all year round – finishing at lunchtime there’s plenty to do for the rest of the day, why not have a read of my other blog posts to get some inspiration!

The training centre is located just outside of Leamington town on Warwick New Road, but there are several other training centres also, find out about them here. You can book a Leamington tour by e-mailing the centre: centrevisits.leamington@guidedogs.org.uk or by giving them a call on 0345 1430208. Go, and have a wonderful cuddle with an amazing guide dog this year!

Thanks for reading! Lisa X

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