How ‘buddy dog’ has transformed life of girl with visual impairment

How ‘buddy dog’ has transformed life of girl with visual impairment

06/29/2021

Buddy Dogs: Woman discusses how scheme has helped daughter

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Two-year-old Labrador, Shani, is a part of the ‘buddy dog’ scheme with Guide Dogs. The buddy dogs are given to children with sight loss to help develop self-confidence and social skills. On Sky News this morning, Kay Burley introduced mum Francesca and 11-year-old Nancy Cawood, who has been paired with Shani as part of the scheme.

Francesca said: “This is Shani and she is Nancy’s ‘buddy dog’. We have had her for two-and-a-half months, and she has brought enormous joy to all of us.

“Nancy has found a real friend and companion with Shani. Nancy has always been interested in animals, particularly dogs. Shani has had a really positive impact on her confidence and they have developed a really amazing relationship of trust.

“Shani is incredibly gentle and tolerant. Nancy has got learning difficulties and a visual impairment, but Shani is really tolerant about things like treading on toes or her tail, that kind of thing.

“She has been a real enhancement to Nancy’s life.”

After the interview, Francesca’s sister tweeted: “In the short time Shani has been with my sister, she has had such a positive impact on the whole family, not just our Nance! Such a brilliant service that Guide Dogs offer, everyone needs a Shani pup in their life!”

When someone takes part in the ‘buddy dog’ scheme through Guide Dogs, experts take into account the individual circumstances and needs of the child to match them with the most suitable dog.

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Typically, buddy dogs have been given a career change because life as a guide dog wasn’t quite right for them. This means they may have health or behavioural difficulties such as a skin condition, anxiety or problems with their joints.

Buddy dogs are only for children with sight loss. If a child has additional needs, such as autism, alongside their visual impairment, they are also eligible.

More information on the scheme can be found here.

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