Applying for a guide dog is an exciting and life changing moment, not only will your confidence increase but you are pledging to take care of an animal 24/7 for the rest of your working partnership.
What to Expect When Applying For A Guide Dog.
If you are serious about applying for a guide dog you will need to get in touch with Guide Dogs to request an application form. This can be done in several ways:
Applying online using this online form.
Printing out the application form and posting it to Guide Dogs
Calling Guide Dogs on: 03451430229
Phonecall From Guide Dogs.
Once your form has been submitted and received a member of the Guide Dog team will call you for a phone consultation about applying for a Guide Dog.
This phonecall can last anything up to an hour and will cover:
- Why you have chosen to apply for a Guide Dog
- How you travel independently and what public transport you use int order to do so
- Your lifestyle, hobbies and working status and environment.
- If you have any other health or medical conditions.
- This is so Guide Dogs have an idea of the type of lifestyle you lead and what Guide Dog would suit your needs. During this discussion you also have the opportunity to ask as many questions as you want, no question is ever too silly or small. Guide Dogs would rather repeat an answer than have you feeling confused over the process of your application.
- A member of the Guide Dogs’ team will advise you on any paperwork or medical statements they may require from you.
- This is usually a short health interview with your Doctor explaining that you are medically fit and well to continue the application process.
Booking A Home Visit.
Once your medical letters have been received and checked by Guide Dogs, you will be contacted to arrange a home visit.
Someone from your local Guide Dogs Mobility Team will interview you face-to-face to confirm everything on your application form is present and correct . This can take up to 3 hours.
This will give time to ask any questions and go into further detail of your lifestyle, expectations of having a Guide Dog and your ability to travel independently. Ability to travel independently using your mobility aid; this would include crossings.
- The Guide Dogs Mobility Instructor (GDMI) will go out with you on a local route to watch and assess your capabilities. confidence and awareness in familiar surroundings, they will get you to cross a road and walk a route that you use regularly.
- The GDMI will discuss with you about your physical capabilities on working with a Guide Dog. For example I have Arthritis which affects my mobility and this was discussed during my interview.
- The GDMI will assess the safety of your home and work environments. This is to ensure that your Guide Dog has somewhere clean and comfortable to sleep and stay when you are at home or work. They will also assess any changes that could be made to support you in this, for example trip hazards on the way to your desk at work.
- The GDMI will ask you questions about your ability to care for a Guide Dog and applying techniques to working and looking after it’s health and wellbeing. Asking you questions on any additional factors that can help choose the best Guide Dog for you. Such things as preferred breed, sex and temperament of the Guide Dog.
- The GDMI will also take you out in your local area where you will role-play being guided by a Guide Dog on harness, giving them commands such as sit, wait and forward. This is to assess how well you are at following the Guide Dog and using your voice and body confidently when speaking to the Guide Dog. If you are really lucky, you may even get to experience this with a Guide Dog due to be matched!
When your home visit has been completed and any additional forms have been received a member of the Guide Dogs Team will be in touch to let you know if your application has been successful.
The Exciting Part Of Waiting…
You’ve been officially accepted and you are now on the Guide Dog waiting list, what’s next?
Unfortunately it’s just a waiting game from here on out, on average the whole process of application and being matched can take up to 2 years. This is because Guide Dogs only breed a select number of Dogs a year and the training process is long.
It also depends on how many dogs are trained and have been allocated in your borough. If there is high demand in your catchment area then you will be on the waiting list longer than an area that does not.
Another thing to consider is that Guide Dogs work on a hierarchy/levelling system on the waiting list.
Level 4 ;
You have just been approved for a Guide Dog and you are officially on the waiting list.
You have been on the Guide Dog waiting list for around 6 months, you are no longer a new applicant but you are still in a queue so-to-speak.
This is for people who have been on the Guide Dog waiting list around 1 year. Your local mobility team are aware you are on the waiting list and will be looking for suitable matches for you.
You are at the top of the Guide Dog waiting list and unless there is someone who is in need of a Guide Dog more than you, for example a visually impaired persons who’s Guide Dog has had to retire suddenly.
They would be at the top of the list because they know how to work and train with a Guide Dog. The visually impaired person usually has a very established routine. in their life and It takes less time for a seasonal Guide Dog owner to qualify than a new person such as yourself.
Factors such as: your wants/ requirements in a Guide Dog breed, sex and any health conditions can play a large part in your time on the waiting list.
it could be a few weeks or even a few days after entering level 1 that you receive that long awaited phonecall!
*In the interim of waiting you can keep in touch with Guide Dogs by having 3 monthly phonecalls with a member of the Guide Dogs team to keep you updated on your progress. This is a chance for you to ask any questions you may have as well as keeping them up to date with any changes in your circumstances for example changing jobs.
You can also attend a training day where you travel to the main Guide Dogs training centre in Reading, get to meet the team and experience working with a Guide Dog, how to groom and how to use your body and voice affectively. This is on appointment basis only so you will have to speak to your mobility team and get them to book you on a training day.
The Matching Process.
A GDMI will call you to confirm they have a possible match for you. They will give you an explanation of your dog, their breed, temperament and walking pace.
If you both agree that this could be a match a date is set for the GDMI to bring the Guide Dog to your home to meet and potentially have a small walk around a familiar route with them on harness.
If you and the GDMI are happy with the selection then they take the Guide Dog away and fill in the paperwork to begin your training on class.
You will be contacted by phone to confirm where and when your class will be taking place.
An acceptance package and course materials of what to expect on training will be given to you by post and also any other format you require, I opted for email.
You arrive for class, transport and assistance can be provided and discussed with your GDMI team if you cannot get there by your own means.
I hope this guide was useful of what to expect when applying for a Guide Dog, feel free to read my training experience here.
Have you applied for a Guide Dog? Where are you on the waiting list?Let me know how you found the entire experience, I would love to know!