September 11, 2023

By Harry Mottram: The Channel 5 programme Puppy School for Guide Dogs screening this month has featured Hester Poole (pictured) from Bath. Blind from birth and suffering from Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) Hester and her family have been involved with the charity Guide Dogs and their buddy dog scheme.

When she was 14 Hester applied to have a guide dog and soon afterwards a black labrador called Pickle came into her life.  The programme follows her progress using her newfound four-legged friend who makes life easier and has given Hester more confidence.

Hester’s mother Sarah said: “After Hester’s diagnosis at six months old, top of my priorities was to make sure her difficulties with her vision were just that. An inconvenience. They don’t matter and they don’t change her outcome.”

She continued: “…it feels as though Hester has grown a foot taller, she’s more confidently going at speed, growing in confidence and stature. And that was overnight with the introduction of Pickle.”

The Guide Dogs charity picked up her story: “Aged seven the family were put in contact with Guide Dogs and applied for a buddy dog. Describing themselves as a ‘dog family’, Dash the buddy dog was a perfect addition and helped Hester keep her independence while enjoying outdoor activities.But Hester always dreamed of having a guide dog. At 14 she applied and the day after finishing her GCSEs Hester started her training with Pickle, a five-year-old golden retriever Labrador cross. And the difference of having Pickle in her life was instant.”

The charity said that a buddy dog is a ‘friendly, well-behaved pet dog that helps bling children to increase their physical activity, build confidence, create better relationships with others, and develop a sense of fun and trust.’ The buddy dog is owned by Guide Dogs. For more about the scheme visit

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