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Blue Peter’s Iggy qualifies as life-changing guide dog

12 May 2016

Callum and IggyWhat’s it like living with one of the UK’s most famous dogs? 16-year-old Callum from Bradford can tell you! He’s just become the proud owner of Blue Peter’s guide dog in training, Iggy.

Callum was born with Norrie disease which means he has no sight whatsoever. To begin with, Callum got out and about using a cane but last summer approached the charity Guide Dogs to find out if he could get a dog of his own. 

In February 2016, Iggy became Callum’s guide dog and now the pair are inseparable.

Currently studying IT at Shipley College, Callum explained what had helped him decide to contact Guide Dogs: “I’ve used a cane since I was about 5-years-old, I have never enjoyed using one but just got on with it when I was younger. I used to bump into things and was always worried about it going wrong.

“As I got older, I found the cane frustrating because I was always dependent on someone to accompany me when travelling to school or to hang out with my friends. However, after meeting some guide dog owners and watching a few television documentaries about people with guide dogs I started seeing it as a very real possibility for myself.”

Blue Peter teamed up with Guide Dogs in April 2014, to celebrate 50 years since the two British institutions first worked together. Since then, Blue Peter have followed Iggy from the day she was born right up until present day when she became a fully qualified guide dog. Presenter Lindsey Russell in particular formed a real bond with Iggy. It was Lindsey who chose and named Iggy at Guide Dogs National Breeding Centre in Leamington Spa. Since then she has played a huge part in the life-changing pups development by being by her side at all the crucial parts of her training. 

Iggy has grown up in the spotlight and the pair are clearly a great match as Callum has appeared on stage a few times himself to preform stand-up comedy.

Callum continued: “When I first met Iggy it felt very odd to be guided by a dog instead of using a cane. I walked a bit like a robot to begin with but picked it up really quickly, it was much easier than I thought it would be.

“After some training I got the call to say that Iggy and I had been matched. My whole family burst into tears, we were all so happy.

“Iggy is amazing. She’s crafty and in her spare time she has a cheeky inclination to steal and hide my mum’s slippers. She also has her giddy five minutes every day, where she runs around the house at about 100 mph, skidding across the kitchen floor – she goes so fast she looks like she’s using a treadmill!”

Callum’s mum, Tracy, wasn’t a dog lover before Iggy moved in she said: “I’ve never owned a dog and wasn’t overly keen on them but Iggy is just fantastic. She’s settled in so well and is definitely part of the family. They’ve only been together a short time, but there is a huge difference in Callum’s confidence and I can already see how much she’s going to change his life.”  

Callum continued: “Iggy is very well known because of Blue Peter and I think it's fantastic that not only have I got a guide dog, but also the chance to help spread the word about the charity Guide Dogs and the work that they do for young people. It also gives me the opportunity to thank the Guide Dogs team publicly for all the amazing work that they have done.”

“Thanks to Iggy, I can already get to and from my Nan and Grandad’s by myself. I’ve also learnt my route to college, which involves both a bus and a train. In the not too distant future I’ll be able to go and meet friends for coffee without having to ask someone to take me. The freedom she brings me is brilliant, exhilarating and really exciting.”