Three generations of Guide Dogs were welcomed at Heathrow Terminal 5 yesterday, to learn how to help their future owners cope in bustling and unusual places.
Two volunteers, other wise known as ‘puppy walkers’, brought the youngsters to Heathrow, along with another dog, which has just begun it’s official 16 week guide dogs training, to introduce them to environments rich in sights, sounds and smells.
The puppies had a walk around the departure forecourt of Terminal 5 and enjoyed being regularly stopped by passengers who wanted to stroke and pet them. Quince, a retired nine year old Labrador helped show them the ropes.
The charity, Guide Dogs, breed and train the dogs who are then matched to their visually impaired owner and spend their working lives with them.
On average, about 90,000 passengers requiring special assistance travel through Heathrow per month.
Dave Kent, who is blind, brought his two year old Labrador, Arthur, to show how a fully trained guide dog works. Dave said: ‘An airport can be a challenging environment for anybody, if you are blind or vision impaired it can be doubly so. Having airport staff trained and ready to offer assistance in the appropriate manner can make the difference between a journey that is average to one that is both slick and highly supportive. It’s a win-win.’
Rob Harris, Guide Dogs London Engagement Manager said: “Tackling the Tube, busy train stations, packed buses and crowded streets is a challenge for anyone in London. Imagine doing it without sight. Guide dogs allow blind and partially sighted people the opportunity to live, work and commute in London with the same freedom as those of us with sight.
“It’s fantastic that Heathrow Terminal 5 is opening its arms to our puppy walkers who can make the most of having a busy environment to expose the dogs to, safe in the knowledge that both them and the dog will be looked after. This will contribute to ensuring our guide dogs continue to change lives.”
Mark Hicks, Head of Customer Relations at Heathrow said: “We are delighted to be work with the Guide Dogs For The Blind in our continued effort to make Heathrow more accessible for the 90,000 plus passengers with reduced mobility we assist every month.”