Puppies shown how to use the bus

GUIDE dog puppies are learning all about travelling on buses with their onboard trainers.First East England has re-launched a scheme allowing sighted puppy walkers to travel for free on its buses while training their dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

GUIDE dog puppies are learning all about travelling on buses with their onboard trainers.

First East England has re-launched a scheme allowing sighted puppy walkers to travel for free on its buses while training their dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

The move means that puppy walkers in Norfolk and Suffolk can now travel for free across First Eastern Counties network.

Learning about buses, and bus stations is a core part of guide dog training.


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Thanks to the scheme, volunteer puppy walkers are able to take their puppies out on as many short journeys as necessary, allowing the dogs to get accustomed to different sights, sound and smells.

It potentially saves Guide Dogs significant sums of money, so the charity is able to spend more cash ensuring blind and partially-sighted people are able to enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.

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During their training puppies could travel on the bus more than 100 times.

Guide Dogs transport policy officer John Welsman, is registered blind and uses a guide dog called Sorrel.

He said “Puppy training is vitally important. Ensuring that a dog is able to cope, and knows how to behave, in busy environments with lots of strange and unfamiliar noises is crucial.

“It is particularly important that guide dogs know how to settle themselves on public transport, understanding where to sit and how to help their blind or partially sighted owner.

“The support we get from First, enabling our puppy walkers to travel for free, helps us significantly.”

First East England managing director Alan Pilbeam, said: “We are pleased that we are able to play our part in helping to ensure that guide dogs can be trained effectively, and that we are able to save the charity money at the same time.

“We are committed to removing barriers for all disabled people, and as well as actively renewing our bus fleet to ensure all our vehicles are low floor and easily accessible in time for the 2015 and 2017 Disability Discrimination Act deadlines.”

First also has a national charity partnership with Save the Children, and supports various other charities and organisations throughout the year.

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