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Firefighters help guide dogs prepare for a life in service

Firefighters help guide dogs prepare for a life in service

Guide Dogs training at Ashford Fire Station 2.jpg
The guide dogs meet firefighters for the first time

31 August 2016

Ashford fire station welcomed visitors of a different kind this week, as charity The Guide Dogs brought in ten of their pups in training for some unique experiences.

Puppy walkers and guide dog trainers from Ashford and surrounding areas took their pups, including some experienced and some at the very early stages of training, to the Henwood site on Tuesday 29th  August to experience the sights and sounds they will come across when they become working guide dogs.

Puppy training supervisor for The Guide Dogs in south Kent and East Sussex, Jay Taylor said: “We’re so grateful to the crews in Ashford and to Kent Fire and Rescue Service. It’s such a great opportunity to help prepare our puppies for the real world. Good socialisation is crucial for each dog to succeed in training and for when they’re placed with their new visual impaired owners.”

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Guide dogs training at Ashford Fire Station

A busy fire station like Ashford provided some excellent situation and sensory training, including:     

  • Sirens sounding inside a building and the difference in acoustics.

  • Different surfaces around the fire station.        
  • A variety of smells that change from room to room including the personal firefighting protective equipment lockers.

  • Sirens sounding on the fire engines and turn table ladder vehicle driving around the yard.        
  • The sound and presence of large vehicles and machinery and the noises they can make.

  • Meeting firefighters in their full firefighting kit and breathing apparatus.        
  • Use of different types of staircases internal and external including fire escapes.

  • Entering the dark fire training facility that smells of smoke.    

These could all have been scary for a young dog; however the pups seemed to take it in their stride.

Jay added: “Every puppy has to be comfortable with the noises they can be exposed to and this training gives them the chance to see if they respond well, or if they need to have a little more training.”

The unique visitors to Ashford fire station come every six months as part of the ongoing training programme, and have done for the last couple of years. A similar programme is about to start in North and East Kent in the coming months.

Green Watch Manager, Andy Harris, who organises the training visit in Ashford, said: “The crew thoroughly enjoy having the pups here. It’s a great opportunity to help such a crucial service in our community in providing their new recruits with a good grounding. We have some loud vehicles and can certainly help the pups get ready for a life of service, just like our firefighters - it’s a great synergy.”

Guide dogs training at Ashford Fire Station.jpg
The Guide Dog visitors and Ashford fire crews
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