From the 6th to the 9th of November in 2018 we had the opportunity to visit the Guide Dogs breeding center in Birmingham such as the Training School of Leamington, thanks to our IGDF membership.
The Baráthegyi Guide Dog School has started their breeding program this year. In addition to this, we found it very useful to peer into the work of an organisation which has been pursuing this activity for decades with great experience and success. We could see how they choose their breeding dogs, and how carefully and precisely they do their work in the process of breeding, and also the aftercare. They place their dogs in the hands of various volunteers, and they invite these people to have a club meeting once a week. Luckily, we had the chance to see one of these meetings, and we could also play a little part of it.
We got to know their special guide dog test, which provides help to decide to which way would be the best to train the breeding dogs efficiently. It makes it easier to choose which dogs will be guide dogs and which ones will be appropriate for another helper profession. We visited the home of a volunteer who owns now a 3-week-old golden retriever litter. We could see their weekly examination and weighing. We went to different puppy educators, who have the help of the experts.
In the breeding center we participate in interesting presentations, we got to see the operation of the organisation such as their principle, their experience and their unbroken success. There was a presentation about dogs with mixed abilities, like: one dog with a blind owner who is also disabled. They told us how much they are grateful for the help they get from their volunteers, no matter what they actually do (help in education, care, charity programme, organization etc..) We met their volunteer coordinator who is also visually impaired, and he explained us his own experiences.
We spent one day in the Training School of Leamington. They taught us about the special training of guide dogs in practice, we could also see different training methods. The time we spent there was especially useful, we saw new techniques and we received advices which can be useful in the training of our dogs. We had the chance to follow up the development of beginner and advanced dogs.
It was a joyful and meaningful study tour, which was a big help for us because the aim of our foundation is a constant development and further professional training. Moreover, we would like to provide our disabled people a more individual life, with a guide dog by their side.