For our last meeting of term, we had two special guests: a guide dog (actually a former breeding bitch for guide dogs who hadn’t been a guide dog herself) and her owner, who spoke about the charity Guide Dogs and the work they do.
This wasn’t part of a badge or challenge that we’re doing, but I think the visit happened through one of those offchances where he got talking to one of our leaders and offered to visit, and they accepted because you don’t refuse when someone offers their services to guiding! Anyway, it was a really interesting evening and we all learned a lot.
We knew he was due to arrive half an hour after our meeting started, so we started off with a quiz about Guide Dogs. I made some multiple choice questions using the information on the charity’s website and this unofficial quiz, printed a copy for each patrol, and gave them to the patrols to work on as they arrived. When they finished the questions, they wrote down ideas for questions to ask our visitor. He arrived just as we were going through the answers, which worked out well as during his talk he referred to some of the answers, and clarified a few answers which didn’t give the full picture.
I was mightily impressed with the Guides, who sat and listened brilliantly for an hour – I’ve never seen them so quiet! A lot of this was due to the dog, who was the real star of the evening. It was very relaxing just watching her snoozing, scratching and pottering around the room. Her owner said that he’d found having a dog around had great effects: for example, it makes people donate more money and makes school children better-behaved. The Guides (those who wanted to) got to give her a treat at the end.
Our visitor had a lot to say about the charity, and it made me appreciate just how many people and how much time and money it takes to provide guide dogs to blind and partially-sighted people. He also had some entertaining stories, such as dogs he had known who were afraid of wheelbarrows and telephone boxes. His main role as a volunteer now is to do talks like this, and I’d recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about this charity.
The timing was good, too, as the Guides are helping out at the “blind club” at a local day centre in a couple of weeks’ time, so it’s got them thinking about this topic and hopefully will encourage them to come (although dogs are not guaranteed).