A MONMOUTHSHIRE family has spoken about how being given a special companion dog has changed their lives.

When Ellie Jones, from Usk - who is registered blind - was 11 she was given 'buddy dog' Emmy, a black labrador, by charity Guide Dogs Cymru.

Buddy dogs go through the same training as guide dogs, but they have a different purpose – they are specifically for children and young people who have impaired vision to enjoy benefits and friendship of a well-behaved dog. They also aim to help improve self-confidence, relationships and a sense of fun and trust. They are not a mobility aid but can help increase physical activity.

Miss Jones is now 21 and is in her final year Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford.

Mum Kate said: “We would go shopping to Cwmbran and people would chat to Ellie, asking her about the buddy dog and what she did. It gave Ellie more confidence to go out and about.

“Ellie absolutely adores the dog. She didn’t want one that was too boisterous or playful, and Emmy is very chilled and relaxed. We’d never had a dog as a family before but Ellie learnt how to feed her and sometimes did her grooming.”

South Wales Argus:

Emmy the buddy dog has been an important part in Ellie's life.


The buddy dog scheme is now being introduced across the whole of Wales. Families in Wales who are interested in finding out more can register their interest in attending a Buddy Dog Discovery Event to find our more about the responsibilities that come with a dog joining the family and how a buddy dog can help.

South Wales Argus:

Ellie aged around 18 with buddy dog Emmy

Caroline Abraham, customer experience lead for Guide Dogs, said: “It’s a case of jobs for our dogs. All our dogs go through the same foundation training and we decide the best career path for them as they progress. Some will become guide dogs, and others are better suited to the buddy dog role.

“Guide dogs is a sight loss charity. We want the dogs we work with to benefit families experiencing sight loss.”

To find out more about the Buddy Dog service in Wales, ring 0800 781 1444 to book a place on one of Guide Dogs’ upcoming webinars.