UK's first dual guide dog and seizure dog graduates with new owner

Posted: 29/11/2011 |

A woman from Tunbridge Wells in Kent who is blind and has epilepsy is getting help from a very special assistance dog.

Hetty, a black Labrador/retriever cross is the first dog in the UK to be trained as both a guide dog and a seizure dog. She will be officially handed over to her new owner, Toni Brown-Griffin on Saturday 26 November.  MEP Glenis Willmott, who represents the East Midlands and is Labour's Leader in the European Parliament, will be guest of honour at the ceremony in Sheffield.

The two-year-old had already been trained as a guide dog by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. She then went to Sheffield charity Support Dogs to lean 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 Hatty can 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 Hatty 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."

For more information please contact James Kell on 0118 983 8192 or email james.kell@guidedogs.org.uk

For information from Support Dogs, contact Ken Ryalls on 07711-749172 or email kenryalls@googlemail.com

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