27 April 2020

Roy Keane has helped to launch Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind’s one day national fundraising campaign Guide Dog Day which takes place on Friday 8 May. This year’s fundraising efforts have been taken online and to the airwaves with the charity urging the public on its social media platforms to donate what they can to lessen the impact of Covid-19 on its services.

Ways to donate

Guidedogs.ie details the seven ways to donate including: Text WOOF to 50300 to donate €4 (Text costs €4. Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind will receive a minimum of €3.60. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278), donate online, set up an online fundraiser, donate by credit card (1850 506 300), post a cheque, by electronic transfer or using in-store Chip & Pin or collection boxes.

Covid-19 impact

The Covid-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the organisation.

  • All community fundraising cancelled since March and now on into the summer months against a background where it costs €5 million per annum to run the charity and €53,000 to train one Guide Dog.
  • 35 Guide Dog Clients currently awaiting services.
  • 45 dogs currently in training who need to complete their training and begin the matching process.
  • 111 puppies currently being puppy raised who need to continue their formal training.
  • High demand to open the 2020 Assistance Dog Programme which is planned for once social distancing restrictions are reduced. 200 applications in 4 minutes when the waiting list was opened in 2019.
  • 100 dogs in total to be born or purchased during the remainder of 2020 for the growth of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind Breeding Programme to continue. This year’s births will be the dogs raised and trained in 2020, 2021 and into 2022.
Roy Keane with Matthew Kearney & Guide Dog Yazz and Trish O'Neill & Assistance Dog Quelda
Roy Keane with Matthew Kearney & Guide Dog Yazz and Trish O’Neill & Assistance Dog Quelda

Clients telling their stories

Telling their stories at the launch were:

Assistance Dog Owner Trish O’Neill & her son Conor:
“From the day Conor was diagnosed with autism, our life as a family became more and more limited. Simply going out together became an ordeal. A trip to the park was impossible. If there was water or a river nearby Conor would try to run to it, with no sense of the danger it posed. When we would try to stop him from running, he would get incredibly upset and have a meltdown. Busy environments like the city centre were out as Conor would become overwhelmed by the noise, hustle and bustle. So many doors have opened since Quelda came into our lives! We now have the confidence to go anywhere – we will try anything as we know Conor is safe with Quelda. She has an amazing calming effect on him – he will reach down and rub her ear if he is feeling overwhelmed. She is the best therapy that Conor has ever received. She has changed all of our lives.”

Guide Dog Owner Matthew Kearney
“Life was very difficult before I got my Guide Dog Yazz. I lost my vision when I was 20 so I had a long cane and was highly embarrassed to use it as I was stubborn and did not want people seeing me as a blind individual. I didn’t get out very often. I thought I couldn’t do anything anymore. Yazz has completely changed my life. I would be lost without him. He is part of the family now. I’ve learned to cook, clean and live independently. I’m taking on triathlons and have done multiple martial arts and I play at elite level on the FAI’s national blind team. I could not be the way I am now if it was not for Yazz. He gives me a reason to get up in the mornings. Life is looking amazing with a fantastic partner.”

Patrick Burke, Chairman of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind said “Guide Dog Day enables us to raise much needed funds and is a day to celebrate the difference our dogs make to those who are vision impaired and the families of children with autism who can lead more independent lives. Although traditionally a campaign which sees volunteers fundraising around towns and city streets, this year we’re focussing on telling our clients’ stories online and on radio. Now more than ever we need support as we aim to change as many lives as we can this year and beyond into 2021 and 2022. It is a time to raise much needed funds but also to pause and reflect on the rich contribution our Clients and dogs make to society.”


Written By

Roisin Grant


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