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Taking The Lead

North Lakes Hotel & Spa, Penrith, welcomed some very special guests on Thursday (March 14) – two guide dogs in training, Rose and Sue.

The dogs will be staying for two weeks as part of their core skills training, while they form a bond with their new partners.

It’s part of a new partnership the hotel has created with the Guide Dogs UK charity.

Deborah Hiscox, Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, said: “Rose and Sue have spent a year with  volunteer puppy walkers  who have socialised them. They then have had 26 weeks of formal training, 16 weeks with a Guide Dog Trainer and 10 weeks with myself.

“They are now starting their journey as guide dogs, which involves five weeks of training with their new partners. The first two weeks are done in a hotel where they will learn how to handle the dogs, this involves basic obedience, how to walk them on a lead, how to put on the harness, how to look after the dog and make sure they are healthy.

“I was looking for a hotel in Cumbria and I visited a few – you get a lot from first impressions. I visited North Lakes with a friend and their guide dog and the staff couldn’t be more helpful. Everyone has been bending over backwards to help us and nothing is too much trouble.”

The dogs were at the hotel on Thursday to meet up with their new partners for the first time since they were matched. They will enjoy a weekend at home with them developing a bond, before they return to North Lakes on Monday to stay for the duration of the training.

To ensure it all goes as smoothly as possible, five members of the North Lakes team recently visited the charity’s North West regional centre for My Guide training, so they are more aware of the challenges faced by people with sight impairment and the support they need.

General Manager at North Lakes Hotel & Spa, Antony Penny, said: “We are a dog friendly hotel, with dedicated dog friendly rooms, an outdoor dog run and even our own in-house dog so when Deborah first visited I was delighted she experienced that genuine warm welcome.

“Our team are very excited to be part of this partnership with Guide Dogs UK – we had no shortage of volunteers who were willing to do the training at the regional centre and everyone was thrilled to meet Rose and Sue on Thursday.

“We are sure that Rose and Sue, their new partners and Deborah will enjoy their stay with us and give them the best possible start to their new journey together.”

Guide Dogs UK is a UK charity that currently has around 5,000 working partnerships, including around 40 in Cumbria. They also offer My Guide services, children and young people services and long care training.