Kali says “Guide dog Blake is my eyes when I’m unable to see.”

Kali is kneeling down on the grass next to her guide dog Blake, a golden retriever. Kali is smiling at the camera and Blake is sitting, wearing his harness, with his mouth slightly open as if he is smiling. They are in the RNC Orchard with lots of grass and trees in the background.

For those who may not know me my name is Kali, I’m 18 years old and from Brighton. Currently I am a second year RNC student studying Sport and Rec, support work in schools and the Jamie Oliver course. Alongside this in my spare time I like to play sport, there is a wide range of sport on offer at the college including Goalball, blind football and cricket which I take part in.


What is your eye condition and how does it affect your daily life?

I was born with my eye conditions which are cataracts, nystagmus and retinal dysfunction. This means what most people can see at 60 metres I can only see around 1 metre depending on surrounding conditions and even less in my left eye. Things such as bright light and darkness make it very hard for me to see which can make it difficult on a day to day basis. Also, due to my nystagmus, I find it hard to focus on things and I have limited depth perception.


Why did you decide to apply for a guide dog?

I decided to apply for a guide dog as I am a keen, independent traveller however sometimes my confidence would be lowered due to changing factors that would affect how well I’m able to see. I can also be stubborn at times and don’t like to ask for help. Another factor was over the last 5 years my sight has deteriorated however doctors can’t say if it will get any worse or not.


What was the process of applying for a guide dog? How long did it take?

When applying for a guide dog I made contact with my local guide dog team in Brighton and started the process. They came out for two visits in my home area and then I had two more visits from the local team in Hereford, where I’m studying at RNC. Before being matched I had to learn how to walk with a guide dog to make sure it was right for me and fill in paper work so that myself and the dog were matched accordingly to personality and work etc. From start to finish the process took me a year – me and Blake where matched February of this year!


What’s Blake’s personality like? What are his likes and dislikes?

Blake is a Golden Retriever who is 18 months old.  Blake is a very soppy, people pleasing dog. He loves to carry around toys and show you how amazing they are. He also loves time to play with other dogs when not working.


What was the training process like?

Training with Blake took place over the two weeks of Easter Holidays and was very intense for both me and him. Over our time at training we were learning commands and ways to deal with things such as obstacles but also just getting used to each other. In the evening, down time has been key to our bonding process as it was time that I was able to spend with Blake on my own, I was able to learn what he was like when he wasn’t working and what he enjoyed.


What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting a guide dog?

I think that if you are thinking of applying for a Guide dog it is important to understand the responsibilities and the limits of having a dog however equally Guide dog the organisation is there to help you. The dog is there to be your eyes when you are unable to see and therefore becomes a big part of your life. They become your partner in life and I wouldn’t want to think about what it would be like without my new partner in crime!


If you would like to find out how RNC can help you with your independence and mobility, call our student enquiries line on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk


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