Guide dog charities are still finding themselves hindered by the pandemic after seeing volunteer numbers fall during lockdown.

The lack of volunteers for Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Ayrshire division has left those reliant on guide dogs in the local area in a precarious position.

Positions for puppy trainers and fundraisers have yet to be filled.

These roles help the charity raise funds that go towards training dogs, providing equipment and food for them, and matching them to suitable owners.

Volunteer and guide dog owner of 14 years, Craig Happell, said: “If it wasn’t for people fundraising then I wouldn’t have a dog.

“Some people say, ‘I couldn’t do puppy raising because I get a cute cuddly puppy and I’ll have to give it away’ and I understand but at the end of the day it’s people like me who are better for it and get independence.

“If it wasn’t for my dog Merlon, I couldn’t come to get coffee myself or get on a train to go to Glasgow- I’d be basically stuck in the house.”

As dogs finish training at around the age of two and retire at the age of 10, many people who are reliant on them require several dogs throughout their lifetimes.

Each dog is personally matched to their owner, with more energetic dogs being paired to active people and calm dogs being paired with those who have a relaxed lifestyle.

Every dog’s vet bills as well as their essential items such as harnesses and leads are also supplied to the owner by Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Craig added: “Merlon’s my second dog and I felt that I had to give a bit back. My role is to get the volunteers.”

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