What is a buddy dog?
There are two types of buddy dog partnerships
- Young People's buddy dog within a Family Environment
The dog is carefully matched to and placed with the family under the buddy dog owner agreement. The family of a child who is blind or partially sighted are given the opportunity and support to take on responsibilities for the dog i.e. feeding, grooming, exercising and establishing general obedience responses.
There are proven benefits to having a dog or pet within the household. We believe this service enhances the lives of all of those within the household and in addition, the buddy dog will aid the young person in establishing the necessary skills for possible future guide dog ownership.
Placing a buddy dog with the family of a young person who is blind or partially sighted will help to assess their ability to care for and accept a dog into their home, the suitability of a dog to their lifestyle and whether a guide dog would be a suitable mobility aid for them.
On receipt of 50 pence and a signed buddy dog owner agreement, ownership of the dog is transferred from Guide Dogs to the Buddy Dogs Owner (the parent or guardian) who will be responsible for the financial cost of maintaining the buddy dog e.g. food and vet bills with Guide Dogs maintaining contact and providing ongoing practical support from technical staff as required. The young person is asked to sign a young people’s commitment.
- School or Organisation buddy dog
This type of partnership will benefit a larger number of children who are blind and partially sighted and enable those, who may not have the opportunity to own a dog in their home to have regular contact with a dog.
The buddy dog is placed with the professional e.g. a teacher under the buddy dog carer’s agreement. Guide Dogs will retain ownership of the dog, maintain contact and provide financial support as well as ongoing practical support from technical staff as required. Buddy dog carers may wish to make a contribution or pay in full towards the veterinary and food costs for the dog.
Guide Dogs will make the decision as to when the dog “retires”. If the primary carer leaves the school / organisation an appropriate decision between Guide Dogs and the school / organisation will need to be made in relation to the future of the buddy dog partnership. This may include rehoming the dog with the primary carer, identifying an alternative carer within the school or redeploying it as a buddy dog with another school / organisation or young person.