Jo & The Team at Holidaze have recently chosen Guide Dogs for the Blind as their preferred charity and over the coming months will be arranging various fundraising events to help support this wonderful charity.

•  Guide Dogs receives no government funding and relies entirely on public generosity to fund its services – quite simply, we cannot function without you!
• The lifetime cost of a guide dog is around £50,000
• We commit to providing a guide dog for life and a guide dog owner may have up to eight dogs in their lifetime.
• With the help and support of their loyal friend, you can live a normal life and still travel on holiday. Follow the stories of Debbie and Jasper just to see how!!!

If you would like to support us or make a donation then please call us or pop into the office in Kinson. Or click onto our very own just giving page EVERY penny counts!!!!  THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!

© The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association 2016. Guide Dogs are a working name of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Registered Office: Hillfields, Burghfield Common, Reading, Berkshire RG7 3YG. A company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (291646) and a charity registered in England and Wales (209617) and Scotland (SC038979) Tel: 0118 983 5555 Email: Website:

I knew life would be good, but not this good! 
From Lin Wallace

I was very interested in the article about guide dogs that Barbara Weeks wrote in the last magazine. I have a friend, Debbie, who, after losing her sight, has now got a guide dog called Jasper.

Debbie lost her sight very suddenly at the age of 42 in October 2006, when she contracted a virus while on a flight back from Spain. The virus caused the red cells to overtake the white cells in her body,  causing scarring at the  back of the eye and the retina to detach completely from the right eye. Her left eye gives her a blurred vision of shapes, but her world is totally black and white,  and, unfortunately, no laser or stem cell treatment can be done because of the scarring. 

Debbie was referred to the sight and healing team, where she received long care training that was the start of getting her life back and to be independent again. She went first to a Bournemouth society for the visually impaired in July 2009. They completely retrained her in everything  –  cooking and dressing and even the simple task of putting toothpaste on a toothbrush  (her family were often telling her off for wasting it down the basin!)  Her life was SO frustrating and at times she felt useless,  but they set her up with a volunteer, Sue, who gave her “my guide” training before she could receive a guide dog. It involved a lot of hard work and patience from both parties. Debbie said it was a nightmare going out, stumbling around not knowing where you were going, but, gradually,  after months of training,  Sue taught her all of the routes she needed to know, so that training could begin as soon as her dog arrived. The most important thing you have to do is to put your entire trust in the dog. After four years of waiting, the big day arrived just before Christmas 2013 and Debbie said it was the best present ever! Debbie and her family bonded very quickly with Jasper, and he has completely changed her life,  making her more independent,  confident and safe. 

Last August the family went to Tenerife on holiday and,  with the Guide Dogs’ Association’s permission,  Jasper went too and the hotel was thrilled to welcome him. Few people are aware that guide dogs are accepted in certain countries, because his passport doesn’t have an expiry date like ours. His ticket is issued at the airport on arrival. He is allowed the same hand and baggage allowance and, once checked in, is allocated a boarding pass,  then through customs to shop in  duty free his heart’s content lucky boy! Once airborne, the captain came into the cabin to meet them. Then he accompanied Jasper back to the cockpit where he was made the official captain by placing the captain’s cap on his head. He worked so hard flying the plane but soon handed it back into safe hands and went back for a nap before landing. The staff and guests at the hotel made a BIG fuss of Jasper once he had arrived there, and soon he realised that, when he got hot, relaxing around the pool, he would cool himself off under the shower, and the guests were more than happy to share it with him.

Each night everybody came to say goodnight to Jasper, and he got lots of kisses and cuddles,  which he loved. The holiday was a great success and in February this year he flew with Debbie and her husband to Alicante to visit her sister. 

Last year Debbie and Jasper campaigned with the help of the Guide Dogs’ Association to have a pedestrian crossing put in at the Ringwood end of Poole Lane. After many months of letter writing and phone calls they won the case. The contractors loved Jasper.  I think they were quite sad once the crossing was completed, but they invited both Debbie and Jasper to open it, by pushing the button and crossing the road. Debbie is very grateful to the council and has become a great ambassador  –  she goes to many venues to give talks, including Bournemouth University and a local youth centre which her daughter attends.

I am a member of a voluntary singing group called  Vocaltones. We have established ourselves over three years by recommendation and, in eighteen months we have donated £3,000 to the Guide Dogs’ Association and we have 53 bookings for this year  –  which is great. 

Life for Debbie is an upward struggle, but she faces it with a positive attitude  –  she has some bad days, but many good ones, thanks to Jasper. I must tell you about his shopping trip, but that will keep for another time.

It’s a Dog’s Life

The last few months have been a busy time for Debbie and Jasper. At the start of the year they were invited to J.P.Morgan, where they were presented with a cheque for  £1,000. Every year J.P.Morgan hosts a Christmas 
market and chooses six charities to which to donate proceedings. This year Guide Dogs was one of them and they were really delighted to receive this. Another bank invited them along, too, to their Nationwide headquarters and Debbie, along with four other owners and their dogs, spent time talking and answering questions about the difficulties of being blind and how much a guide dog can change your life in so many ways. On arrival, Jasper did a lap of honour twice around the conference table and enjoyed himself with the other dogs and meeting the staff. After letting off steam, it was down to the serious business of falling asleep on top of each other all cuddled up!

Each dog wears an official jacket. The importance of this is so the dog will know it is acceptable to be sociable and touched, rather than being in a harness (which is a working piece of equipment) and when only the owner can instruct the dog what to do. 

Fundraising is a necessity, since Guide Dogs get no government funding and their food is not exempt from VAT something for which the Association has been fighting for years to get changed. The saving would be enough to allow for at least an additional six dogs to be trained each year. 

People are very generous at times. A great example happened when Debbie spent four hours at the Co-op in Christchurch raising funds. Of course, Jasper got lots of cuddles and treats given to him by the children who were shopping with their mums. Jasper had spent a long time looking at the lady, watching from her shop window across the road. She was amazed at how well-behaved Jasper had been that she came and handed her entire day’s takings to Debbie, who was very touched by her generosity. 

You might have heard on the news about dogs being electrocuted whilst out walking. Unfortunately this happened to Jasper when Debbie and her husband were out walking in Bournemouth town centre just before Christmas. Suddenly, Jasper just keeled over and lay very still on the pavement. Obviously, they both thought the worst and were in shock. After a few minutes, though, Jasper came round, looking a bit dazed, but, fortunately, he was fine. They were able to sit in a coffee shop  nearby, whilst Jasper was checked over to make sure he was O.K. A young man approached them and said, he was an electrician and had checked the pavement, discovering a live wire from a cable that had been laid between the pavement slabs. He had seen this happen before to another dog. The incident was reported that the council, who responded very quickly and followed it up with a written apology. Of  course, the voltage was not high enough to affect a pedestrian, but could be lethal to a dog.

Bournemouth University is a place Debbie visits regularly. At the beginning of. May, they were asked to attend the Business Centre there with six other guide dogs and their owners. The students were revising for their exams  –  a very stressful time for them  –  so were given time off to spend with the dogs. Stroking an animal has a very calming effect on humans and lots of students were cuddling and talking to the dogs. Many of them have pets at home and they miss these very much. They talked about their feelings of loneliness and the stresses they were undergoing. By the time they had to return to their studies, they all said it really helped them to calm down and were grateful for the visit. The idea was first thought up by a member at Manchester University and it is hoped to be introduced now to every university across the country. It went so well at Bournemouth, that they returned again in June. 

After a very busy time for Jasper, he’s off on a well-earned holiday to Tenerife, chilling around the pool and practising his doggy paddle, of course. Lucky boy!

Have a dog, will travel 

Happy New Year, ladies! I can’t believe another year has gone by. I hope you will make the most of it. Debbie and Jasper certainly did.

Last March the family and myself attended a fun dog show in Weymouth. It was organised by the Rotary Club with the help of Glenda Webb who is the dog care and welfare adviser at the Guide Dogs’ Association. Pedigree Chum sponsored it.

Lord and Lady Fellowes were the presiding judges. There were lots of contestants  –  the four legged kind of course  –  who registered for it. Much to our delight Jasper got best dog in show. He was very proud to show off  his rosette and even took it to bed with him. Everyone had a great day,  especially those dogs and their proud owners who won the various categories. One of these six categories was that for the ugliest dog. Aah!

A guide dog’s training still continues in their early years. In May,  Jasper went through a Behavioural and Correction course for squirrels and birds . Obviously all dogs want to chase them and Jasper is no exception, but, for a blind person, this is really frightening.  Hugh, the instructor, took them to the Lower Gardens in Bournemouth, where both species are in abundance. On their second session,  Jasper encountered a rat. He made no attempt to chase it and let it go on its merry way. Jasper just kept on walking with Debbie. A few weeks before he would have given chase with Debbie hanging on for dear life. Such experiences have happened a few times to her. She says it can be quite comical. Definitely, have dog will travel. 

He passed his course with flying colours. Hugh and Debbie were so proud of his progress in just two sessions that they praised him with big hugs. He got some nice treats and plenty of love when they returned home.

His progress had been noted with extreme interest by the consultants at Bournemouth Eye Unit. No doubt, they will soon be asked to give an update on this. Last August, the family went off to Majorca for two weeks’ holiday everything went smoothly this year with Thomson Holidays and at the airport, they are used to having him now. He was greeted by the captain and his crew waiting at the bottom of the stairs to board the plane. He has become a real celebrity now. Once airborne, Jasper spent some time once more in the cockpit with the pilot.
 He’s certainly getting plenty of practice on flying a plane. He would be very useful in an emergency, wouldn’t you say!

Debbie spends a lot of time talking to people while on holiday. One of the guests at the hotel was thrilled to meet them, as she is a puppy walker for Guide Dogs. She was able to see first hand what dog and owner can achieve together through hard work and patience. It gives Debbie also a chance to say thank you personally for giving her back her confidence, independence and for having companionship in a very dark and somewhat isolated world.

Holidays have stretched Jasper’s capabilities enabling him to become an impeccable guide dog. He’s wonderful. He loves picking up socks, shoes, anything on the floor, taking them to his bed and laying on them. He hides everything under his duvet. On holiday each day at the pool, he would go around picking up plastic glasses, empty of course, taking them back to where he used to shelter from the from the sun. He would lay them out, lie on them and go to sleep. The bar staff became very fond of him and were glad of his help in keeping the pool area tidy. They were very upset to see him go.

Every Thursday Debbie goes shopping with her Mum. On their return,  Jasper loves to take everything indoors. He’s very proud of himself, parading around the car with a bag of toilet rolls in his mouth.  Job done  –  time for a nap. 

In September it was Guide Dog Awareness week. Debbie and Jasper were asked by the local Boy Scout troop to help with their awareness badges. Firstly, they performed a demonstration, then the boys were blindfolded for the rest of the evening. Some found it quite scary carrying out certain tasks, especially choosing food from the buffet, but they all passed with flying colours and were all very proud to receive their badges. 

Our singing group performed at 71 shows in 2015. This time we presented another cheque for  £1,500 in December  –  all thanks to local nursing homes and clubs who book us on a regular basis. We love singing. They love having us, but the real stars are the guide dogs. They are amazing. 
Please help to give when you can. It really is appreciated.

Watch this space for the next update on Debbie and Jasper

Please help to give when you can. It really is appreciated.