A woman from Tunbridge Wells in Kent who is blind and has epilepsy is getting help from a very special assistance dog. Visit the guide dogs for the blind website
Hetty, a black Labrador/Retriever cross is the first dog in the UK to be trained as both a guide dog and a seizure alert dog and has been officially handed over to her new owner, Toni Brown-Griffin.
Two-year-old Hetty had already been trained as a guide dog; she was then specially selected by Sheffield charity Support Dogs to learn how to identify the onset of an epileptic seizure. Hetty will now help Toni, who is registered blind, get out and about and manage her seizures.
Toni, 42, said: “Hetty is a phenomenal dog, I could never have imagined how good she could be. Not only does she help guide me but she is always on the watch out for signs of a seizure. If it is a minor seizure she will come to a halt and sit, but at an offset angle, not straight like she normally does. But, if it is a major event, she will warn me by putting her chin on my knee or pawing at me. This gives me time to get to a place of safety.”
Chief executive of Guide Dogs Richard Leaman said: “Dual dogs like Hetty transform the lives of people living with sight loss and other disabilities. This is a great example of two charities working together. We are confident that Hetty will help Toni live independently for many years to come and we look forward to doing more work with Support Dogs.”
Rita Howson, Support Dogs’ Director of Operations said: “We know Hetty is the first dog to deal with these two disabilities in the country, but we can find no mention of a similar dog anywhere else so we think she is totally unique and could be the first in the world. It is a remarkable testament to the growing relationship between Support Dogs and Guide Dogs.” Visit the guide dogs for the blind website