Guide Dogs Cymru Needs New Fosterers to Carry on its Life-Changing Work

Guide dogs are literally life changers. They give blind people the confidence to get out and provide emotional support and companionship. There are not enough dogs to meet demand. 

Guide dog Cymru is a guide dog charity based in Wales, dedicated to producing more qualified guide dogs to bring convenience to more blind people.  

The charity recently held a volunteer recruitment event at St David’s Shopping Centre and along with the staff went three guide dogs. It gives the public a more visual understanding of guide dogs. 

All the staff on site were very patient in providing explanations to the children, students and elderly people who passed by, to help residents to find out about the volunteering roles they offer, including fosterer and puppy raiser.  

But one of the biggest challenges that the charity faces is the impact of covid on the environment for their guide dogs in training. 

The charity’s head of services Kerry Bevan says: “Since the pandemic, towns were no longer busy towns, people weren’t using public transport. It’s all of that sort of early exposure when they’re puppies that it’s really important to set the foundation for their learning before they go off to learn how to be a guide dog.

“And so for those dogs in training when they came in, and then the wheels started to get back to normal, it was a real challenge when they saw really busy footfall on their streets. “

Kerry Bevan

Hilary Lester is a volunteer for the charity. She brought her guide dog, Portia, to give assistance at the event. 

“Portia basically goes everywhere with me. We can go to the park, we can go to the theater, cafes, anything we want to do we can do and we do together and work as a partnership. She’s my best friend and she was my eyes,” Hilary says.

Hilary Lester and Portia

A total of 26 guide dogs have been successfully trained since the establishment of the charity. 

But raising a guide dog is not easy. 

It costs more than £55,000 per dog to breed, train and support them from birth to retirement. A person may have up to eight guide dogs in their lifetime, bringing the total cost to around 450,000 pounds. 

The Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Graham Hinchey, has chosen Guide Dogs Cymru as his charity of the year. 

Graham Hinchey

“This project is coming along nicely so far,  It’s been well accepted by young people, particularly schools because it has a connection with disabilities and sight and health and well being. So it’s nice to be able to go into schools and talk to young people,” Cllr Hinchey says.

The next plan for the project is to raise more funds for the charity to ensure quality training for guide dogs so that more blind people can get out and change their lives.