How do I apply for a companion dog?
Our new companion dog service is currently only available for adults with a vision impairment who have sighted support within the household. We plan to develop the service through a series of pilots, which we'll constantly review and learn from to enable us to reach more people impacted by sight loss that may live alone or without sighted support.
If you meet our current criteria, here’s everything you need to know about how to apply and the next steps to welcoming one of our friendly dogs into your home. Before you apply, do take a look at our guidance to see if your family is suitable.
- Call us on 0800 781 1444
Or you can use our online form to request a call from us. In this first phone call, we’ll need to take some time to talk through if the companion dog service is right for you and your family. This will be the first of two early conversations that form part of the companion dog application process.
- Fill in an application form
Next, we’ll send you an online application form by email to fill in. As part of the application process, we’ll need some information about the other people who live in your household. We’ll also need to see supporting documents such as proof of identity, address, and details of your vision impairment, such as a Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI).
- Virtual interview
Once we’ve got your application, we’ll have a second phone call with you where we’ll ask some follow-up questions and discuss whether a companion dog is right for you. We’ll also want to speak to any adults in your household who are going to help care for your dog. We’ll then arrange a virtual home visit using Skype, WhatsApp or another video calling app – and we’ll help make sure we’re using the right app for you.
- Attend a companion dog training session
These take place in our training centres and give you and your family the chance to meet one of our companion dogs. You’ll also learn more about the commitments and responsibilities of looking after a dog for life. After the session, we’ll talk again about whether a canine partnership is right for you and your family.
- Join a companion dog development session
If your application for a companion dog is successful, we’ll invite you to attend a second session delivered via a webinar. It will give you more information about companion dogs and advice on looking after one of them in your own home. It’s at this point that we’ll make sure that we’re in agreement that the companion dog service is right for you.
- Matching with a companion dog
We’ll now match you with one of our companion dogs. We can’t say how long this will take as it depends on your circumstances and whether we have the right dog for you. As soon as we do, we’ll invite you and your family to meet them. If that meeting goes well, you’ll be able to take your new friend home with you.
- Placement and partnership assessment
It’s important to us that you, your household and your dog are all happy together and, over the next four weeks, you and your companion dog will have time to settle in and get to know each other properly. Next, we’ll invite you back to the training centre for your partnership assessment, where you’ll be signed off as an official companion dog partnership.
- Companion dog partnership support
We offer ongoing support for as long as a companion dog lives with you. You’ll be able to contact us if you have any problems and we’ll check in with you every year to make sure that you, your family and your dog are still enjoying life together.