Family’s joy at opening home to guide dogs

Mia and Andrew Durrington
Mia and Andrew Durrington

A family is urging people to follow in its footsteps by opening their homes to guide dogs in training.

The Durringtons volunteer as boarders for Atherton-based charity Guide Dogs and love welcoming the animals into their lives.

Debra Durrington, who lives in Hindley Green, said: “I initially heard about the boarder role appeal through a large banner that was outside the Guide Dog centre in Atherton.

“I was intrigued and went home and Googled it. I then went onto the Guide Dogs website and entered my details to register. ”

Over the past two years they have boarded seven dogs, as well as helping out by taking in two other dogs for short periods.

Debra said: “Our motivation to become a boarder came about as we couldn’t as a family have a pet dog as we were out all day at work and school. My daughter absolutely loves dogs.

“I thought by boarding dogs I would have the satisfaction of supporting Guide Dogs as a charity, as the dogs would be used to living in a home whilst completing their training, and my family would also get the benefit of caring for a dog.

“The role fits our lifestyle as the dogs are in training at school during the day Monday to Friday.”

The family loves spending time with the dogs and usually boards each one for around four months.

Debra said: “We can take the dogs out free running - once their trainer says we can - and it’s so nice when you get up in a morning and they are so pleased to see you. They are so relaxing too, as they just want to be cuddled and stroked after a hard day’s training.

“The trainer also benefits from us boarding as any bad habits that the dog has can be dealt with before they are put with a service user as we give them updates of how the dog is behaving in the home. The trainer is there for you and are always very helpful.”

The Durringtons enjoy getting to know the dogs, but say it can be difficult when they leave.

Debra said: “Every dog we have boarded has been different. They all have different personalities and can be very funny sometimes. When they first arrive in your home they are so excited and run around sniffing everywhere. The one we have now loves to sit and watch football on the TV!

“When the dog moves on it can be a little upsetting, but you have to think what you’ve done for that dog, how you have helped it and look forward to getting another dog.

“It is very exciting when you pick up another dog as you get to make another new friend. We have received photos of all the dogs we have boarded in their harnesses looking very smart.

“Our favourite things about boarding dogs is actually having a dog in our home. It’s so rewarding as you can see their training coming along each week.

“When we take the dogs free running at weekends, we get to spend family time together as we all want to go.

“A dog we boarded dived in a stream and she looked like a different dog as the water was muddy. She went in yellow and came out black, she loved the splashing around!

“We set off walking again and off she toddled again into the mud. Saying that, she sat very nicely while she was cleaned when home!”

Debra encouraged people to consider opening up their homes to the dogs.

She said: “Having a guide dog is so rewarding, as not only do you get a dog every few months, but you are giving your home to help with the training of a guide dog that will help a blind or partially sighted person become more independent in and out of their own homes too.”

For more information about boarding a guide dog in training, contact Janet Harper 07780 958873 or janet.harper@guidedogs.org.uk.