Meet my new friend Harry. I’m not a doggy person but he’s kind of cute! He was the guest of honour (with his puppy walker Sarah) at my first Trefoil Guild meeting to talk about Guide Dogs and the need for funds and more puppy walkers.
Sarah has been a Guide Dog puppy walker for a number of years, and Harry is her 5th puppy. He is a HUGE retriever/labrador cross and was so well behaved. He is almost at the end of his puppy walking stage, and will hopefully go to Guide Dog boot camp and graduate to be an essential part of a blind or partially sighted person’s life. She spoke with such a passion about her role as a puppy walker and the urgent need for more. The call for funds is a common one in an organisation which doesn’t receive any government funding, but I didn’t realise there were other support roles required too. Each puppy costs Guide Dogs UK around £50,000 from birth to retirement at about 9 or 10, and yet each potential owner only has to pay 50p as a token contractural amount to get their dog. Puppy walkers take a young puppy and train it over a year to strict guide dog standards to produce a well behaved dog, ready for final training on a harness before it is handed over to someone who really needs one. Sarah told us a number of stories about people whose lives have been transformed for the better because of their partnership with their pooch.
The Trefoil Guild is Guiding for adults. Like WI for Guiding types really. As I’m a Guiding geek and a WI member, I thought I’d give it a go. I found my local branch and they were really welcoming and helpful. I did feel incredibly young at the meeting (being at least 20 years younger than everyone else in the room!), but everyone was really lovely and they went out of their way to chat to me.
Like the WI, the Trefoil has gained an ‘older woman’ reputation, despite being open to anyone 18+. It was so nice being somewhere where I wasn’t organising something or responsible for something. I just went, moved a few chairs to help out, and left. Bliss! I will be back next month for more, and when I join, I will be channelling my Guiding geekiness more and going for the Voyage Awards. I’m a sucker for a badge!