Erin's story

Quince’s calm nature makes him a perfect buddy dog to nine-year-old Erin. Before Quince came into her life, Erin was nervous and scared, even leaving the house was difficult. Now, just three years on, Erin’s confidence has soared with Quince by her side.

Quince is really special. He wants to do all the stuff that we do together. If he wasn’t who he is, then I probably wouldn’t be who I am.
Erin, young service user

Erin was just a couple of months old when her parents found out she had a vision impairment. Her mum, Sarah, says: “It was a really difficult time. We were still learning how to be parents, and then we also had to learn how to be parents of a child who was registered blind. It was a lot to deal with and come to terms with.” 

When Erin was two years old, she was appointed a Guide Dogs Habilitation Specialist by the local council. Their Habilitation Specialist taught Erin how to use a long cane, advised her family how to make their home more accessible, and worked with her nursery too. As Erin got older her Habilitation Specialist also helped her at school.

“But Erin was still quite an anxious little girl. She was unsure about lots of things. Noisy places were particularly challenging and even going to the park was difficult.”

When Erin’s Habilitation Specialist told them about buddy dogs from Guide Dogs, they jumped at the chance and Quince joined Erin’s family in March 2020. 

“The difference Quince made was instant. He loved Erin for who she is. He didn’t see the nystagmus, or her glasses, or that she struggled with a step. He became her best friend, and he let her snuggle with him and fuss over him. The change he’s made is so huge it’s hard to put into words. He’s helped her be more confident and independent, and she now talks positively about her vision impairment.”  

Erin says, “Quince isn’t just a buddy dog, he’s my friend. He helps me feel safe and he’s always by my side. Quince walks with me on the way to school. He’s the only dog allowed in the playground and that makes me feel special and included. He makes me feel more comfortable and he always sticks with me.”