How do I apply for a buddy dog
Here at Guide Dogs, our top priority is the welfare and safety of the people we support, our volunteers, staff and our dogs. We remain committed to helping people with sight loss lead the life they choose, and because of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’ve adapted our physical workshops into online webinars on Zoom, a video conferencing website.
To make sure you still get the most out of the workshops, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to use Zoom. Once we’re able to return to face to face workshops, we’ll be sure to let you know.
- Call the Guide Dogs advice line on 0800 781 1444
When you phone us, we’ll ask you some questions to find out whether coming onto a Discovery Session is the best way forward for you and your family. If it is, you’ll be able to book onto one of our buddy dog discovery webinar sessions there and then.
- Join a Buddy Dog Discovery Session
This is just for adults to learn about the buddy dog service and gives you more information about the service before deciding whether it’s the right decision for you and your family. These sessions are also open to families with a child with sight loss, who may want to get a dog from another service.
- Fill in an application form
Following the webinar, you’ll be sent an online application form to fill in. As part of the application process, we’ll also need to see supporting documents such as rental agreements or details of your child’s visual impairment. It’s worth getting these sorted now, as we may check them during the buddy dog experience session or on a Skype call.
- Telephone interview
Once we’ve got your application, we’ll call to ask some follow-up questions and work out if this is the right service for you and your family.
- A home visit
We’ll then arrange a home visit using Skype, WhatsApp or another video calling app. Don’t worry, we’ll support and help you with whichever app works best for you.
- Join a Buddy Dog Development Session
If your application is successful, you’ll be invited to join a second workshop, also delivered via a webinar. This session is designed to give you more information about buddy dogs and advice on looking after a dog in your own home.
At this stage of the process, we’ll need to wait until the Government guidance around Coronavirus (Covid-19) allows us to offer face to face services again.
- Attend a Buddy Dog Experience Session
This takes place in one of our training centres and is for the whole family. It gives your child the chance to meet a dog from Guide Dogs and learn all about what’s involved in looking after a dog for life. Following this session, we’ll again discuss whether this service is right for you and your family.
- Matching with a buddy dog
Once you’ve been to all the training sessions, you’ll be matched with a buddy dog. We can’t say how long this will take, as it depends on your circumstances and if we have the right dog for your family. If we do have the right buddy dog available, your family can collect them at this point and take them home.
- Follow-up and qualification
You’ll have four weeks (minimum) to get to know your buddy dog and allow them to settle in properly. Next, you’ll be invited back to the training centre for a qualification visit, where you may be signed off as a buddy dog partnership.
- Ongoing aftercare
For the entire time that a buddy dog lives with you, we offer ongoing support and aftercare – you’ll be able to contact us if you have any problems. We’ll also carry out annual check-ins to make sure your child, your family and the dog are still happy.