A CHARITY chief has praised a pet grooming service which is helping his guide dog to unwind during breaks from being his “eyes”.
Al Winton, secretary of the Hartlepool and Seaton Carew branch of Guide Dogs for the Blind, says his guide dog Gypsy, who he hails as his “lifeline”, likes nothing more than to attend sessions at the K9 Hydrotherapy and Grooming Centre, in Hartlepool.
Mr Winton, 68, from the town’s Ormesby Road, hailed the Whitby Street South-based facility, which has awarded seven-year-old Gypsy a bronze certificate after completing 10 swims, for providing her with a little relaxation.
He said it was not all work, work, work for guide dogs.
“Every time the public see a guide dog, it’s either working or fundraising, which is another form of work,” said Mr Winton.
“They never see the dogs at play.
“But my dog goes free-running as well as swimming at the K9 centre, she’s a star dog.
“It’s not all drudgery for theses dogs – they do get lots of fun and they are loved.”
Mr Winton praised the public in Hartlepool for donating £444 during a street collection held outside Hartlepool Central Library on the weekend of September 28 and September 29.
He has regularly featured in the Hartlepool Mail describing how the cost of a guide dog from being born until retirement aged 10 is £49,000.
But he said he paid for the K9 sessions out of his own pocket and the sessions, which see Gypsy swimming, diving and playing with toys, help keep her lungs and heart healthy.
Katy Smith, canine hydroptherapist at K9 Hydrotherapy and Grooming Centre, said: “Gypsy is really well trained and her owner tells me he never likes her to miss a session.
“It’s her bit of fun but when she gets out of the pool she knows it is back to work.”