Guide Dogs receives no government funding; it costs over £5000 to breed and puppy walk each guide dog puppy and the lifetime cost of a guide dog is nearly £50,000.
To mark the organisation’s 50 years in Forfar, Bridie, a six-month old Golden Retriever cross Labrador, has been named especially to celebrate the charity’s major milestone and will truly become the community’s guide dog in the months ahead.
The charity launched a £5000 fund-raising drive, culminating in the celebratory Fun Day on Saturday, to help sponsor Bridie through her training.
Logan Anderson, training school manager, said: “The support of local people was instrumental in Guide Dogs coming to Forfar half a century ago and over the decades their generosity has been unwavering.
“In recognition of the support from Forfar, we’ve decided to combine the two by naming our special golden anniversary puppy, Bridie.”
As well as helping to sponsor a Guide Dog, there are many other ways the local community can help the organisation.
Logan continued: “We are always looking for volunteers to help with boarding, fundraising activities, puppy walking, driving etc. The volunteering opportunities available are all on our website.
“I would like to say that everybody thinks of us as Guide Dogs, and I always like to emphasise that we are a people charity.
“Our key services are obviously Guide Dogs but we do My Guide where we train people and staff members of companies how to guide and interact with a blind or visually impaired person.
“Volunteers are trained to go out with a blind or visually impaired person, say to a football match or a music concert, places where it wouldn’t be appropriate for a guide dog to go.
“The other huge thing which is going to take off is Blind Children UK, an offshoot of the National Blind Society which was taken over by Guide Dogs.
“We work with parents of blind and visually impaired children, we work with teachers and have habilitation specialists who work with the children. This has really taken off and they will have a really big presence at the gala day.
“When people think about Guide Dogs they think we are a dog charity; we are a people charity.
“Everything we do is about getting blind and visually impaired people mobile; we campaign on their behalf; we educate and raise public awareness.”
Among the volunteer supporters of Guide Dogs are Dunfermline couple Colin and Anne Tremble, who are puppy walkers for Bridie - their third Guide Dog.
During a visit to the Forfar centre on the eve of Saturday’s celebration they spoke of the rewarding experience they have had over the years.
Anne said: “Our first dog is working in Ireland. We have spoken to the owner who is very grateful for what we have done and has said what a difference the dog has made to her life.
“It is something I have always wanted to do and once we retired we thought we would try it, now that we have the time.
“The puppy fits in with our lifestyle. It is sad when they go but they always go away happy and you know they are going on to help someone.”
Colin added: “If you like dogs then it’s not really a job, it’s not hard work. It is good to do something.”
Anyone wishing to help to sponsor Bridie or who would like to volunteer should contact www.guidedogs.org.uk