October 23rd, 2016

Guide Dogs celebrates 75 years in Leamington

TAILS were wagging as Guide Dogs celebrated 75 years of being in Leamington.

The charity opened the doors of their training school at Edmondscote Manor to members of the public who enjoyed meeting some of the dogs and taking part in the day’s festivities.

There were dog demonstrations from guide dogs, police dogs and even some talented pups who could jump through fire.

Guide Dogs first opened the doors at its Leamington centre during the Second World War in 1941, but the charity was founded ten years previously by two women in the Wirral. The pair had heard about a doctor in the First World War who left blind patients in the care of his German Shepherd. They then took to training the dogs in a bid to help guide those who could not see.

Expanding the charity, Guide Dogs launched in Leamington with Captain Nikolai Liakhoff at the helm. He arrived from America where he had done pioneering work with assistance dogs.

Under his leadership the charity began to recruit volunteers to become puppy walkers in 1956. A few years later a breeding programme was introduced with a centre built on Banbury Road.

A spokesman for the charity said: “From these humble beginnings of working in small shacks in the Wirral, the principle of guide dogs has remained focused over the years.

“Our mission statement is that we will not rest until people with a visual impairment can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.”

Nowadays In Leamington, there are more than 700 volunteers who help care for the dogs, and more than 1,400 puppies are born at the centre each year.

The service relies almost entirely on donations and supplies some 800 dogs nationally each year to assist those with a visual impairment.