Guide Dog boarders needed in St Albans

Lesley and Nick Gilbert of St Albans with Sidney, the eighth trainee guide dog the couple has boarde

Lesley and Nick Gilbert of St Albans with Sidney, the eighth trainee guide dog the couple has boarded. Photo courtesy of Michael Day - Credit: Michael Day

A St Albans couple love their boarders, even though they are hairy, can only be left for up to three hours and sometimes have a penchant for bow ties.

After boarding seven trainee guide dogs since 2009, Lesley and Nick Gilbert say they cannot imagine their lives without them.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is appealing for volunteers in St Albans to board trainee guide dogs during evenings and weekends.

Volunteer boarders house the trainees in their homes for 10 weeks, and the dogs are then matched up with a visually impaired person.

The dogs are dropped off at the charity’s office in Park Street between 8-9am and picked up again between 5-6pm.

Lesley said: “We are currently boarding our eighth guide dog, Sidney. He is great – they are all fabulous and well-behaved.

“Nick and I started boarding because we wanted to see what it was like to have a dog.”

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Looking after a trainee guide dog “part-time” suits the Gilberts perfectly as they both work.

However Lesley admits that the hardest part is bidding farewell to the dogs, saying, “I get teary”.

The Gilberts were surprised to find that the dogs do not need to be walked in the weekday evenings as they have a very active day with their instructors.

Volunteer boarders are closely supervised by the dogs’ trainers.

And the charity supplies basic equipment and covers all veterinary and feeding expenses.

Lesley said: “The dog can be left for up to three hours, but for those 10 weeks you can’t go out for the evening during the week or a full day at a weekend.

“Instead of going out, we tend to have friends coming over to our house more. Our friends are very understanding and don’t mind at all – they love meeting the dogs.”

Lesley recently received a phone call from the new owner of one of her boarders, Ted, who attended a wedding wearing a bow tie.

She added: “We have lovely memories of all the dogs that we have boarded.”

For further information phone the association on 0845 3717771 or email