Bus operator offers support for charity training future guide dogs in Wigan

Future guide dogs have been learning how to use public transport - even during the coronavirus pandemic - thanks to the help of a bus operator.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 12:30 pm

Training at Guide Dogs’ regional centre in Atherton had to stop for several weeks when the first national lockdown was imposed in March last year.

As the trainers returned to working with the dogs, the charity had to ensure the safety of both its staff and members of the public, so activities like bus and train travel were not possible.

It was a real blow, as most guide dog owners will use public transport to get around.

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Guide Dogs trainers Joy Murray, Sara Keating and Paula Farnell help the dogs get used to travelling on buses, with bus driver Karlyn Macgillivray

It is essential that trainers can familiarise dogs with bus travel and make sure they are confident on public transport to prepare them for their lives as trainee guide dogs.

But Stagecoach Manchester came to the rescue by arranging for a bus and driver to visit the centre once a month so dogs can continue this vital part of their training.

The driver of the first bus, Karlyn Macgillivary, allowed dogs to board the stationary vehicle with the engine off and practise getting on and off with the engine running.

The driver then selected shorter and longer routes to follow, which allowed several dogs at different stages to be trained.

Caroline Charnock, Guide Dogs’ canine assisted services operations manager, said: “This training is incredibly beneficial to our dogs and it’s something that would not have been possible without Stagecoach. We are following all Covid restrictions which has delayed much of our work, but this will allow us to thoroughly familiarise our dogs on buses ahead of their life-changing roles as qualified guide dogs.”

Lee Wasnidge, managing director of Stagecoach Manchester, said: “We are proud to continue to support the work of Guide Dogs to ensure every customer who would like to, or who does, use our services can travel by Stagecoach bus with complete confidence.”

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