Juan Greggor has become the Isle of Man’s youngest-ever guide dog owner.
The 20-year-old has been successfully matched with Wilma, a golden retriever.
Juan, who was diagnosed with retinis pigmentosa (RP) when he was seven, met Wilma for the first time at a hotel in Bolton with guide dog mobility instructors from Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Manchester mobility team and the matching process started.
This is when a visually-impaired person is assessed to see if a particular dog will make a suitable guide for them and go on to form a suitable working partnership.
After a rigorous assessment including walks with Juan and Wilma the pair were given the go-ahead to start their training together.
Less than two weeks later Juan once again travelled to a hotel in Bolton to begin his intensive two week training course with Wilma. Here the pair were put through their paces.
Juan had to learn to put his trust in Wilma and follow her correctly in her harness.
And, in turn, Wilma was adapting to work with her new handler, getting used to the speed at which he walked and giving him enough clearance when passing obstacles to keep Juan safe.
Some further training took place in the Isle of Man where a guide dog mobility instructor worked with Juan and Wilma on routes that the pair would walk regularly.
Juan and Wilma will receive continued support from Guide Dogs as they begin their new life together.
Juan, who lives in Peel, previously used a long cane as a mobility aid. He is delighted to qualify with Wilma who will make a massive difference to his life.
Juan said: ‘Having Wilma as my guide dog is fantastic. The combination of her being both a mobility aid and a companion has already made a huge difference to my life.
‘We have been for a free run which she thoroughly enjoyed. She is currently lying on her bed softly whiffling and chasing rabbits in her sleep.’
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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