Today we celebrate world braille day, which is the birthday of the Braille inventor, Louise Braille. The day was started around the world to promote awareness of the challenges faced by visually impaired people and to encourage businesses and governments to create social and economic opportunities for the blind.

As we celebrate World Braille day here at the natural dog food company, we are also celebrating all the dogs out there supporting the visually impaired and all other support dogs that are out there doing a great job.

Did you know there are 4950 guide dog owners in the UK alone? The guide dog story started in the UK in 1931 when 2 British women organised the training of 4 guide dogs in Wallasey, Merseyside. Today guide dogs are the largest breeder and trainer of working dogs in the UK and have helped over 29000 people to achieve independence since 1931.

The Guide dogs for the blind association was founded in 1934 and helps partially sighted and blind people across the UK through the donation of guide dogs, mobility and other recovery services.

Guide dogs are trained to help their owners go out in public without walking into other people or obstacles. The Golden Retrievers and Labradors are the breeds most associated to guide dogs but others are used too including cross breeds such as Labradoodles for those allergic to dogs. All of these breeds are used for their intelligence, temperament and health qualities which make them great guide dogs. There are many factors that are taken into account before a dog is matched to an owner, their walking speed, personality, lifestyle and many other characteristics.

There are other types are service dogs such as medical detection, hearing and seizure alert dogs helping people living with different disabilities and mental health problems throughout the UK, in some cases, helping them fulfil their dreams. All assistance dogs have to have full attention on their owners at all times otherwise they could be at risk of putting their owners in danger, here are a couple of rules we follow when we meet an owner and their assistance dog:

• Always speak to the owner/handler not the dog!
• Always ask permission if you want to touch the dog, this is a distraction for the dogs that may be in the middle of a command given by their owner so you don’t want to interfere. Don’t be offended if the handler says no, they are at work!
• Always keep your own dog at a distance, although they are trained other dogs are a distraction to the assistance dogs, and there is always the risk of an altercation between the two dogs.
• Always inform the owner if an assistance dog comes to you, sniffs or nudges you, try not to engage with the dog just politely let the owner know and the owner will correct the dog.
• Always treat the owner with respect, do not pry into their personal life, you wouldn’t do it to any other owner so don’t do it to them!
• Always assume an assistance dog is on duty even if they are napping, it is perfectly acceptable for an assistance dog to take a nap whilst their owner is sat down with friends or stood chatting for a while, this does not mean the dog is off duty.

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