Joseph and Kasper – Buddy dogs service

Football fanatic Joseph Seabourne has a new team mate who’s in a league of his own; black Labrador and Guide Dogs Buddy Dog Kasper!

Seven year old Joseph from Staines in Middlesex has anaridea, glaucoma, cataracts and a nystagmus which means he has no peripheral vision and his central vision is severely affected. Before being teamed up with Kasper Joseph lacked confidence, particularly at school.

Joseph with Kasper and FamilyJosephs mum Katie found out about the Buddy Dogs Service when the family attended a Guide Dogs fundraising event. Katie explains: “At first I was apprehensive about having a dog as my Husband and I have never had one before. However, we took the decision that our son would likely benefit from a guide dog later in life and decided to enquire about it as we could see that it would enable Joseph to develop the necessary skills to use a guide dog effectively - it has done this and so much more. Since getting Kasper in October 2012 the transformation in Joseph’s confidence has been truly amazing!”

Following the application and once an appropriate dog had been found, Allison Rowles, a Guide Dogs Mobility Instructor, worked with the family to prepare them for dog ownership. Allison comments: “I worked closely with them to support all aspects of dog ownership and build confidence. Despite his size Kasper is very gentle, which makes him ideal as a buddy dog.”

Joseph walking with KasperJosephs mum Katie enthuses “Kasper has been wonderful for Joseph! He's gone from not even being able to say excuse me to someone in his class, to getting up in assembly with the headmistress and confidently talking to the whole school about kasper!!”

The Buddy Dogs Service is for families with visually impaired children or, schools and groups that have visually impaired children attend them. The service uses those dogs that are not quite right for the full Guide Dogs service. At the end of 2012 there were 31 Buddy Dog partnerships across the UK. A buddy dog can help improve a child’s confidence, communication skills and, it enables skills for future guide dog ownership to be learnt, as they get to feed, groom and walk their dog.

Katie says: “Kasper keeps Joseph Company and Joseph now loves the walk home from school.” However, it is not just Joseph that is benefiting from Kasper; Phoebe, Joseph’s younger sister, enjoys helping feed Kasper. Katie explains that Phoebe gets Kasper’s food and Joseph puts it in Kasper’s bowl. They also play hide and seek with Kasper; which Kasper enjoys as much as they do. We're so happy and cannot thank Guide Dogs enough. The transformation we’ve seen in Joseph is wonderful and who knows what his future will hold.”

To find out more about the Buddy Dogs Service and Guide Dogs other mobility services for children and young people, visit: www.guidedogs.org.uk/services or call 0345 1430224.

Calls to our Mobility teams will cost 3 pence per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge.