Round of applause for the generous guide dog volunteers


Kindhearted Lanarkshire volunteers whose contributions make a significant difference in the lives of visually impaired people were honored at a special ceremony.

They all donate their time to the Hamilton Center of Guide Dogs – a charity celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.

Volunteer puppy breeder Craig Herbert, from East Kilbride, took guests to Saint Mary’s Scottish Episcopal Church in Hamilton before Glasgow native Carlos Rodriguez gave an inspirational talk on how his life has changed since working with guide dog Marine.

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Carlos battled severe depression after losing his sight and credits Marine with helping him enjoy life again – and losing over 10 stone from her daily walks.

Carlos Rodriguez says his guide dog Marine changed his life

Guide Dogs Volunteer Coordinator Susan Harrison told Lanarkshire Live: “This was our first personal award since the pandemic began and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the work of our amazing volunteers.

“Volunteers are at the core of our existence and part of everything we do.

“Without them there would be no guide dogs. Congratulations to all of our winners and finalists.”

Volunteer puppy breeder Craig Herbert introduced the guests to the event

The event’s winners and finalists included people who help the charity in a variety of ways, such as: B. Dog grooming, puppy raising, fundraising, campaigning and driving.

Motherwell canine handler Violet Murray received the ‘Expert Award’ for the skills and dedication she has shown caring for guide dogs in training.

Over the past six years, Vi has sponsored seven guide dogs and is also a sighted guide, a role that includes walking a Blantyre man’s guide dog on free, free-roaming runs, during which she acts as his guide.

Winners Christine Patterson and Violet Murray

Vi is currently taking care of Theo – the first guide dog she raised directly from a volunteer puppy kennel in the earliest stages of training.

“I look after the dog and have him at home, except when I’m taking him to the training school in Hamilton, five days a week from 9am to 4.30pm,” she explained.

“I have to let the dog roam free at the weekend, let him off the leash and keep up the training he gets at Guide Dogs.

Bramble at the Guide Dog Training Center

“That includes things like stopping at the curb and using the same commands they use and giving lots of experiences like socializing with people and other dogs.

“I sometimes take them to cafes, to lunch and to visit family. Basically they are treated like any other dog when not working.”

Christine Patterson from Glasgow accepted the ‘Partners’ award for her work as a canine health and welfare volunteer at the charity’s Hamilton office. Christine’s nomination described her as having “a lovable, calm demeanor with the dogs.”

The dedicated team at Guide Dogs’ Hamilton Center

Biggar fundraiser Stewart Houston was the winner of the Optimistic award.

Said Stewart, “I’m delighted and will cherish my certificate and badge. I am truly grateful for being nominated and receiving this award.”

The charity is currently appealing to volunteer puppy breeders to care for a puppy for 12 to 16 months, guiding them through training, socialization, introducing them to new environments and experiences, while providing them with a loving home.

Visit the website for more information.

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