As the charity’s new CEO prepares to take the reins, Guide Dogs wants to take the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the retirement of guide dogs, showing how loved and appreciated they are even as their careers come to a close.
One such guide dog is Piper, who is approaching his tenth birthday and is due to retire later this month. He has been by the side of owner Mary Pitman, 81, since 2015. This week the pair were invited to Bagshot Park, Berkshire, the home of Guide Dogs Patron Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh, alongside outgoing Guide Dogs CEO Tom Wright and new CEO Andrew Lennox.
To mark Piper’s retirement after so many years of loyal service, Mary and Piper were presented with a special ‘Putting my paws up’ dog tag by The Duchess.
Piper is one of hundreds of guide dogs who retire across the UK every year, all of whom deserve to be recognised for their devotion to their owners.
Mary says: “Piper has taken brilliant care of me. Guide dogs are life-changing and give you the chance to just go out and get on with life. To open the door and go out for a walk, just me and him, is wonderful.
“Being blind it often doesn’t take much to knock your confidence. Walking into a lamppost or stepping into traffic can be enough to stop you going out entirely. Having a guide dog with you stops all of that.
“Every dog is different, and I would say my first guide dog Olive was far more dainty and feminine. Piper has been great too; calm but with a cheeky side."
The majority of retired guide dogs stay with their owners even after hanging up the harness. Piper will be spending his remaining years with Mary and her husband Roger at home in Thame, Oxfordshire, as a pet.
Mary added: “I’m grateful that at aged almost ten Piper is still in good health so he can fully enjoy his retirement. We’ll be keeping him active with lots of walks, but he can truly relax.”
Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh joined volunteers at a Guide Dogs puppy class as part of The Big Help Out.
We’ve got a fantastic range of jobs - over 400 roles - at Guide Dogs. So this week, we’re asking Daniella Higson, Rehoming Officer, all about her exciting role and how she can help people with sight loss.
Guide Dogs announced today that Andrew Lennox has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer of the charity. An experienced business leader, Andrew will succeed Tom Wright and assume responsibilities on 20th September.