Speaker Meeting 26th February 2018

The Raising and Training of Guide Dogs for the Blind

The members of the Rotary Club of Church Wilne welcomed Mary and Graham Moorcroft to their speaker meeting at the Royal Oak in Ockbrook on Monday 26th February when they spoke about their raising and training of guide dogs for the blind.

Guide dogs for the blind started just after the First World War when the German Shepherd was used for this purpose and has been in the UK since 1928. Labrador Retrievers are currently the most popular breed used along with the Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds or a cross between the Golden and Labrador Retrievers.

Mary and Graham began their hopes to train dogs for the blind some 22 years ago when they heard about it on the radio but initially they were told they could not do it as they were too far away from the two main centres in Manchester and Leamington. Then around 10 years ago on Central TV they saw that the training of guide dogs had set up a new area for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire and they were then accepted.

A puppy resting during the early training.

Their first dog was named "Wickes" with no connections to the builders. Their current dog for training is "Jogger" and is sponsored by a golf club. They have trained several others over the years such as Trafford, Jake, Mickey and George.

Mary spoke about how they receive the dog to train when they are about 7 weeks old and they have to carry it around for the next 7 weeks before they are allowed to be on the floor at around 14 weeks old. They are taught several command words to help the puppy's future behaviour and they are not allowed to play with a ball as this would be a future distraction. The dogs are kept for training until they are 13 months old and their current dog "Jogger" is destined for breeding.

The dogs working life is dependant where they work and they work until they are 7 or 8 years old. Upon retirement they can be kept or if not are allocated to one of thousands who want a retired dog.

Sponsorship comes in many ways such as recently a school donated £300, many people make provision in their Wills and more details are on their web site. www.guidedogs.org.uk

Mary and Graham finished by giving the members a brief overview on their work so that the dog is trained to how you would want it to behave.

The Club's vote of thanks was given by Peter Woods who said their training ensures that the tragedy in public life and their dog training makes it worth while for so many. Peter referred to two moving stories on the web site such as "It gave me reasons to carry on, gave me a purpose and yes it gave me the reason to carry on living". Peter also spoke about the club's involvement with guide dogs for the blind when the Club made a substantial donation back in 1990 and said "Well done for your many years of hard work"

For more information on Rotary, our speaker evenings, events and the main activities organised by our club please contact our Secretary, Mick White at: rccw1220@gmail.com

Ray Terry
For the Rotary Club of Church Wilne

19th February 2018


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