Meet “Kirk” a young guide dog puppy who has been named after the town of Kirkintilloch, thanks to the group of fundraisers who sponsored him.
Margaret Hutchison, a volunteer with Guide Dogs Scotland raised the impressive sum of £5,000 for the charity, along with fellow supporters.
This meant the fundraisers could “name and meet” their sponsored guide dog puppy - and they opted to call him after the town.
Margaret told the Herald: “The £5000 was raised over the past four years by a group of us who all live locally.”
Events ranged from stalls at Christmas fayres and the canal festival to fundraising discos and “Go Walkies” events where the dogs and not the humans were sponsored to do the walk.
And it all came about, said Margaret, who is registered blind, through a chance meeting with Debbie Williamson, who was puppy walker for Margaret’s current guide dog Bob.
Margaret said: “I had held several events for Guide Dogs Scotland before and I met Debbie Williamson who was the Volunteer Puppy Walker for my current Guide Dog Bob, by chance in a local store.
“I invited her along to a fundraising concert and everything took off”.
She added: “It has really been a great team effort by all concerned. We can’t thanks our friends and supporters enough.
“One elderly lady who knits beautiful baby shawls has donated the money received from the sale of these to Guide Dogs three years in a row.
“Guide Dogs Scotland receives no government funding and totally depends on donations from the public to provide the guide dog service.
“The greatest proportion of guide dogs are possible only due to legacies left in wills. The rest is from fundraising and public donations.”
Kirk turned one-years-old this week and is currently taking part in advanced training before becoming a fully fledged guide dog. Before this, he spent his time with a volunteer guide dog puppy walker.
Margaret said: “Around the age of two-years-old they are ‘matched up’ with their visually impaired/blind partner and together they train in the local areas they live and work. As part of this advanced training, dogs are taught to find controlled crossings and kerbs and avoid obstacles en route as well as traffic.”
She added: “Obviously in a town like Kirkintilloch which is now “Shared Space” this is much more difficult to handle & poses real problems for both dog & visually impaired handler.”
“We’re also in the process of naming our 2nd guide dog pup Milton and there are plans for number three who may be called Lennox!”