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Guide dog, Anne

Celebrating International Guide Dog Day

Posted April 24, 2024

International Guide Dog Day takes place on the last Wednesday in April each year, celebrating the incredible contributions of guide dogs in enhancing the independence and quality of life for individuals with visual impairments.

This special day honours the hard work, dedication, and companionship of guide dogs, also known as seeing eye dogs, and raises awareness about the important role they play in the lives of their handlers. Our colleague Bethany comes to work at EDF every day with her guide dog Anne, here she shares her story.

Bethany's Story

Guide dogs are highly trained assistance dogs, who help blind and visually impaired people stay safe and lead more independent lives. I’ve had my guide dog Anne by my side for over six years.

I was given her from The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, which is the world's largest breeder and trainer of working dogs. Guide dogs wear a harness when they’re working, which the owner holds onto for the dog to guide them around.

Before I got Anne, I heavily relied on others and felt isolated. Anne gave me the confidence and ability to be more independent. The sense of freedom that I felt was unimaginable. What I thought was inaccessible to me, now became an option.

Anne helped me achieve my two biggest aspirations, which were to attend university to gain a degree and to get a full-time professional job. I’m now four months into my new role as a Human Factors Engineer at EDF! Anne made it possible. She is my best friend, and I am eternally grateful to have her in my life.

Whenever I go into the office, Anne will be with me. We found adjusting to office life easier than anticipated. Within a few weeks we learnt all the routes around the office. Anne is so intelligent, she even worked out short cuts that I was unaware of. My team have been very welcoming, they adore Anne, but they’re also very respectful when she is working which I really appreciate. EDF has been so accommodating, I feel very supported.

young employee smiling with her guide dog

Guide Dogs resources

For guide dogs to successfully assist visually impaired people, they go through intense training from birth. Guide Dogs have produced an eleven-part series to explain more about guide dog training, entitled ‘The Journey of a Guide Dog’ which covers from birth to retirement, whilst also having some interesting episodes on guide dog genetics and alternative careers.

Last International Guide Dog Day, Guide Dogs published an article explaining the importance of not distracting working guide dogs. According to this article, one in five members of the public admit they have stopped and distracted a guide dog while the dog was working. Considering how many people we walk past every day, this is a huge issue for us. Distracting our guide dogs makes our lives so much harder and can put us in danger.

Guide dogs are adorable, Anne being the most adorable of course, but when they’re in harness and working, please do not distract them. When they’re not in harness and you would like to say hello, please always ask the owner first. If you’d like to give them a treat, please be aware that many dogs cannot eat certain foods due to allergies or medical issues.

Guide dogs change lives, and The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association are working as hard as possible to help as many people with sight loss as they can.