IRVINE residents are offered a rare chance to observe guide dog puppy classes this week.

Guests will have the opportunity to see guide dogs in the earliest stage of their training and find out about different volunteer roles in Ayrshire.

The puppy walking demonstration will take place on Thursday, October 12 at 11.30am in the Volunteer Rooms, Irvine.

Guests will also be able to watch a sighted guide demonstration and staff and volunteers will be on hand to talk about different volunteer roles.

Though attendees should note that they won't be able to bring their own dogs to the event.

Volunteer Consultant Susan Harrison said: “Guide Dogs wants to reach more people in Ayrshire who are living with the challenges presented by sight loss. We’re looking for local people to come together and help our Ayrshire fundraising group with collections and events.

“We also have volunteer roles such as speakers who go out to local groups or schools and help spread the word about Guide Dogs, collection box co-ordinators to place and manage collection boxes which can help to bring in an incredible amount of money.

“For those looking for a more one-to-one role, our My Guide volunteers are given training so they can visit someone with sight loss for a few hours a week and assist them to get out and about in their local community.”

Registered blind, and two-time guide dog owner, John Boyd, 78, talks about his My Guide partnership.

John, from Irvine, has a condition called recessive Retinitis Pigementosis. He started to lose his sight at the age of 24, and it deteriorated slowly over time.

Although he had to switch jobs from an engineer to work in laboratory, he was able to work into his 50s, and ended his career as a Purchasing Manager at the laboratory.

It was after leaving work that his late wife and son, talked him in to applying for a guide dog. It proved to be a good move, as John has since had two guide dogs, getting his first dog Bracken in 1997, and his second dog Hudson in 2006.

John still has Hudson, his 12 year old black Labrador cross Golden Retriever, who is now retired.

“Hudson and I still go for walks, but he’s a bit slower now. I use my long cane when out myself, but it’s much more enjoyable going out with someone, and that’s where Jim comes in,” said John.

“Jim can tell me what’s coming ahead, such as obstacles or potholes, my cane won’t do that. He’s also great company – we get on really well.”

John applied for the My Guide service before Hudson retired, and waited a year bePups are guiding lights fore being paired with volunteer Jim.

He said: “My Guide is such a great idea. It would be wonderful to have more volunteers in Ayrshire to help other local people waiting for support getting out and about.”

Retired business owner Jim, who enjoys keeping active through hobbies such as golfing, hillwalking and gardening, was attracted to the volunteer role as it was active.

Jim likes to keep busy, and so sparing a couple of hours a week to meet up with John is no problem.

He said: “John has a great personality, and the conversation is good. Sometimes we’ll stay local, going to the beach or shopping centre, or we’ve been further afield. We’ve even been to a comedy show in Irvine.”

John added: “Although I see my family regularly, I can save certain tasks for the day I’ve arranged to meet Jim, and that takes a bit of pressure off the family as well. Sometimes we just go a wander, and other times we’ll go shopping for something specific I’ve been looking for. Jim really is one-of-a-kind.”

If you’d like to find out the event, or becoming a volunteer for Guide Dogs please contact Susan Harrison on 0118 983 8123, or email:

Please note, pet dogs will not be allowed entry to this event.