On Tuesday 21st July 2020 I commenced training with my third Guide Dog, Minnie, a 27-kilo white Labrador, who was born on 25th August 2018, and placed with me on Friday 17th July 2020, just before her second birthday.

I was extremely lucky with Holly in 2003, and again with Opal in 2011, and I know that this partnership with Minnie in 2020 is going to be just as successful.

Dominique with Guide Dog Minnie and with retired Guide Dog Opal

This is the first home-training experience for me because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the residential training is normally undertaken at Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind’s National Headquarters and Training Centre in Cork, so this is all very new to me and Minnie, especially as I lost my sight in June 2019 due to a damaged retina. We are being trained by Cliodhna Ni Laoghaire who is a fantastic GDMI (Guide Dog Mobility Instructor) and enables me to be independent again. She is a real source of assistance and encouragement in this very new partnership. She really got the match right between myself and Minnie, which is crucial in a successful partnership that can last for ten years.

The dogs are trained to a very high standard by Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, and it is up to their handler to reinforce their training. This is what makes a successful Guide Dog.

Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind have really enabled me to be independent, and if it wasn’t for them and Cliodhna and their amazing dedicated staff, I wouldn’t have the life that I have today.

Guide Dog Minnie
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