St Albans shopping centres meet the guide dogs it sponsored
- Credit: Archant
Guide dogs in training have been welcomed into St Albans to meet the shopping centre teams who adopted them.
At the St Albans Chamber of Commerce St George’s Day lunch in April both Christopher Place and The Maltings bid to sponsor Guide Dogs puppies in a charity auction.
The centres also named the labrador golden retriever pups - Malty The Maltings dog and Hermes the Christopher Place dog will be raised to aid blind and visually impaired people in day to day life.
Christopher Place centre manager Catherine Morris said: “We are delighted and proud that we have spent money on Hermes knowing that he will be an absolute necessity for whoever gets him - we are giving someone independence and making a real difference to their life.”
She said Hermes was named after the centre owners, Hermes Investment Banking: “It’s a strong business with lovely people - so the dog is going to be successful.”
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Hermes recently went to meet shop owners around Christopher Place. Fitness First Health and fitness manager Glenn Wright said: “He is very cute, it’s clear that he is still young but he has room to become obedient.”
Hermes and Malty are currently being looked after by their puppy walkers, Mike Keane and Janet Moore, who socialise them and prepare them for training. At one year old after becoming used to places a blind person will need help navigating, such as shops, cafes, buses, and cinemas, the dogs go to The National Breeding Centre to train and by age two they will be fully qualified.
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Maltings centre manager Phil Corrigan said: “It seemed in fitting with what we do and what the Chamber is doing.
“She is a gorgeous dog and should make a great companion once she is a fully trained Guide Dog in a couple of years.”
Community fundraising development officer for Guide Dogs, Joanne Landucci, explained why the animals are important.
“It’s the companionship, the freedom, the mobility, and it enables a visually impaired person to gain the freedom they deserve, same as everyone else.”
The average working life of a guide dog is six to seven years and at the end of 2016, there were 5,015 active guide dog owners in the UK.
Guide Dogs are responsible for around 8,000 active and retired dogs at any one time.