Meet Charlie and Peter and their guide dogs Joker and Lynx

Charlie and Joker

Charlie and Joker relax in the garden

Charlie Strong was four years old when he began to lose his eyesight. The next few years were a blur of tests and hospital visits, and by the time he was nine, Charlie was using a white stick and he hated it.

Like many children, Charlie didn’t want to stand out as different. He didn’t want to be seen using his cane as he worried about bumping into things and so he withdrew to his bedroom, preferring to hide, than to “stand out as a blind person”.  It was about this time that he began to dream about having a guide dog.

In 2014 Charlie was partnered with Joker, a two-year-old Labrador. “Joker’s made me feel 100% better.  I feel completely confident with him; now I’ve got him I can go anywhere.”

Charlie is now attending college fulltime, walking an hour there and back each day. He also heads off into the town centre to meet his friends, just like any other teenager. “Joker can steer me anywhere, even through a massive crowd” says Charlie, who no longer worries about attention. “It’s not me, it’s Joker who gets all the attention”.

Thanks to Joker, Charlie has found his confidence and the independence to make the most of his life, no less than any teenager deserves.

Peter and Lynx

Peter and Lynx set off to their next social engagement

Peter Keens lost 95% of his eyesight at the age of 12, but it wasn’t until he was 56 that he applied for a guide dog.  Throughout his life, Peter had relied heavily on his friends and family to guide him whenever he was out and about, which of course meant that he was at the mercy of their busy schedules.

In 2010 Peter had three near misses with passing vehicles after he wandered off the pavement and into the road.  It was these terrifying incidents that encouraged Peter to apply for a guide dog.

At first Peter was apprehensive about placing his trust entirely in a dog, but these fears were completely quashed as soon as Peter met his guide dog Lynx and they began training together.

Nowadays Peter and Lynx cruise the pavements of Kempston in Bedfordshire with confidence as they make their way to the next appointment in Peter’s busy schedule – playing the keyboards for his local choir, attending British Legion get-togethers and Salvation Army lunches.  Peter says Lynx has “opened up my social life to the extent that people have trouble contacting me at home because I am never in.”