Hi, my name is John Grave and I’m one of the charity’s few dedicated trainers striving to provide working Seeing Dogs for our visually impaired clients.
I’ve been dog training for over 40yrs. Firstly in the Royal Air Force where we took ‘civvy streets’ unwanted dogs and turned them into bold confident Attack dogs. Dogs that stood strong and committed! They meant everything to you because as a team you had developed and invested in the animal through its training. Part of my role was to re-develop dogs that had dropped below the required standard and also to re-shape sometimes unwanted behaviours into the right aspects of attack dog work.
In 1989 I qualified as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor training dogs to guide the Visually Impaired. This involved teaching our clients how to look after and work such a high initiative and confident dog. During this time I was fortunate to train a young deaf/blind gentleman in Kent.
In 2001 I joined Seeing Dogs. A charity that had struggled financially to get off the ground since their conception back in 1979. By bringing together all the skills I had learnt in my previous roles I realised it was possible to produce an equal competitor, to the already established Mobility Dog provider, but at a more realistic cost. Seeing Dogs could produce twice as many dogs for the same cost. Interestingly most of our early clients were those whom our competitor turned down for a dog for one reason or another.
20 years on more and more clients are looking for a alternative provider. One that supports independence, uses all its funds to train dogs and allows them to get on living their lives as they want to alongside their working companion.
Our training staff has tripled and with your support we can continue to grow and offer real choice to those who need us.
Hello, I am Wendy Bis-Cooper the latest Guide Dog Mobility Instructor to join the Seeing Dogs Alliance.
I started my working life as an animal nurse at a veterinary practice in Leeds. However, I loved training dogs and sought a job which incorporated this. Bingo! I started at Bolton guide dog centre as a Guide Dog Trainer (GDT) in 1981.
1982: I moved to Middlesbrough, after one year I was successful in my application for an apprenticeship and qualified as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI) in 1986. I was moved to Redbridge (London) , where I gained loads of experience (southerners were much friendlier than I was led to believe).
1988: I married and took 6months out to go to Germany with my husband John Cooper (RAF Command Dog Inspector).
1989: Back at Redbridge I was successful in gaining the job of Dog Supply Unit manager , after a couple of years I was appointed the Area Team Supervisor, responsible for East Anglia. My husband John Cooper had qualified as a GDMI having left the RAF.
1996: I seconded to Bolton to join the holistic team giving me the opportunity to train staff from around the country . I also seconded to Leamington and Wokingham to continue rolling out holistics.
1998: I returned to Redbridge where I took over the Dog Supply Unit DSU again.
2003: John moved to the Peterborough team and I joined him in 2005 as a GDMI. I worked for the Peterborough team until I left Guide Dogs in 2018.
2020: I moved back home, to North Yorkshire. The past two years I’ve been very busy renovating an old farmhouse. I have missed training dogs and people, although I’ve never been without a dog, from growing up with boxers to a wide range of breeds and temperaments in my adult life. From a Bull Mastiff, Italian Spinone, 3 German Shepherds, Parsons Jack Russell, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Alaskan Malamute, Golden Retriever x German Shepherd, to my 2 oldies I have currently called Bentley (whippet x staffie) 13 years who was a rescue dog, and Ali a retired guide dog who I trained (black lab x golden), now 14 years.
The house renovating has slowed and I need something else to get my teeth into, so what would be better than going back to training dogs and people.
Hi my names Sue Scott.
My previous employment was with Guide Dogs, starting in 1988 as kennel staff , after 2 years I took up the role of guide dog trainer for a number of years qualifying as an instructor in 2000 which is the role I have been involved with to date.
My passion has always been working with dogs, I have competed in a number of dog sports with my pet GSD’s and Malinois developing their skills from puppies.
The holistic approach of being involved in all stages of the dogs development including the puppy stage is something I’m really looking forward to , I believe it will allow me the opportunity to be part of developing confident skilled dogs able to successfully carry out their guiding role resulting in partnerships that will flourish once established.
Georgie, the first dog I trained for Seeing Dogs is now working with his new partner in Northern Ireland. Midas is ten months and is about to start his formal training.n
I also have Flora (13 weeks old) who is a golden retriever. Flora is being sponsored by pets at home charitable foundation. This is a great opportunity to take a dog from being a puppy through to a fully trained seeing dog!