A guide dog owner who suffers from a lung condition, is facing new challenges throughout the pandemic.
Janette Hayworth, 65, is self-shielding for 12 weeks due to COPD, a chronic inflammatory lung disease which increases her vulnerability to Covid-19.
Now the Bucksburn resident relies on a friend to walk her guide-dog, Iona – a seven-year-old black lab retriever.
Before lockdown, Janette who is partially sighted in her left eye and blind in her right eye, was able to take Iona outside with her at all times.
However, she is now unable to step-foot outside.
She said: “I was taking her out across the road and a walk around the green to keep her in harness mode, but the doctor told me off.
“I’m not allowed past my garden gate.”
“It’s for my own safety, if I catch coronavirus it could be really bad because it goes to the lungs and mine aren’t 100% anyway with COPD.
In cases where owners are unable to exercise their guide-dogs during lockdown, they can be taken away for temporary boarding, to ensure they receive the care that they require.
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Despite her condition and inability to leave her home during the pandemic, Janette says a friend who is familiar with seeing-eye dogs, walks Iona on her behalf, meaning Iona can stay with her throughout lockdown.
This also allows Iona to get the free-running that she requires to stay happy and healthy, and occasionally she even stays over-night.
She said: “I’m very lucky I’ve got a friend who is also a guide dog boarder and she takes Iona out for me.
“Sybil comes up every second or third day and takes her for a long walk and a free run in the park because they need their down time.
“She understands the rules and that Iona has to stop at every curb, and knows not to give her anything she shouldn’t have.
“When Sybil takes her she’s got to use her own lead.
“She’s not allowed to go with the guide dog lead on. It’s just so when the lead comes back in there’s nothing on the lead.”
While Janette is unable to leave her home, she is aware of fellow guide-dog users facing new issues under social-distancing measures.
She said: “It hasn’t applied to me because I can’t get out but I have heard a few thing on Facebook. “One lady was turned away from two supermarkets who said they couldn’t let her in because of social distancing and also I’ve heard some guide-dog owners have been sworn at.
“Because if you’re going shopping the guide dog is taught to take you straight to the door of the shop.
“They don’t understand you need to stand in a line. The person at the end of the handle just goes where the dog goes.
“They don’t mean to jump the queue.”
Once lockdown is over, she is remaining confident that Iona will be at the same standard of working as before.
She said: “It’s a slight worry but nothing that would keep me awake, because as soon as the harness goes back on they are straight back into the working mode.
“When the harness comes off they are different dogs.
“A guide dog is never happier when it’s working.”