A frail widower, Eric Gamsby, who is 78 years old needs a new dog to help him get around since his current dog, Alice, is set to retire. Alice who is nine and past her retirement age will have her harness removed, by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, so that she can no longer be used as a guide dog.
When an official from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association went to his home to assess him for a replacement Mr Gamsby was told he did not walk fast enough to be given a new dog.
He will now have to use a white stick instead to get around in his neighbourhood in Daubhill, near Bolton, Greater Manchester, pending further tests on his walking pace.
Mr Gamsby lives alone, has no children, and depends greatly on Alice who is his only companion. He suffers from a medical condition, sciatica, which causes him to have difficulty moving his leg making him walk slowly.
Mr Gamsby said: “I can’t believe I have been told I cannot a have a new guide dog because I can’t walk quickly enough. I’m not Linford Christie. I am an old man of 78 in not the greatest of health.
“A trip to the shops two streets away usually takes me ten minutes with a dog. Without one it will take me twice as long.
A spokesman for the Guide Dogs For The Blind stated “that when a guide dog approaches retirement age owners have to apply for a replacement and their suitability to have a dog is reassessed.”
The spokesman said: “Factors such as walking pace, balance and ability to care for the dog are all taken into account to ensure a guide dog is still a suitable, and safe, means of mobility aid for a client.
“In the case of Eric Gamsby the charity was unable to accept Eric for a replacement guide dog straight away due to concerns regarding his capability, and potential safety, to be a guide dog owner.” The association is trying to do everything they can to find a guide dog with a pace similar to Mr Gamsby’s. They are even looking at older dogs to see if they can match Mr. Gambsby’s slower pace.
So far they have not found a match. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could train an older rescue dog that needs a home. It can be very hard to place senior dogs, it seems that could be the perfect solution, a win-win situation.