As guide dog Lucy carefully negotiates busy roads, kerbs and pedestrian crossings, it is hard to believe that the surefooted golden labrador was trained by her owner Lynn Holdsworth.
Lynn (47), who lived in Brownlow for a number of years, has been blind from birth but has managed to hold down full-time jobs and lead a full life thanks to a succession of guide dogs down the years.
Although Lynn feels just as safe with Lucy as she did with her professionally trained dogs, she has no official Guide Dogs certificate, which means she cannot legally take her onto a plane, or even into a cafe.
It’s the only cloud on the horizon for the plucky pair who, in effect, ‘saved’ one another.
In 2011, Lynn’s livelihood and independence were thrown into jeopardy when her guide dog Nicki died suddenly. The mother-of-one was living in London and was terrified at the idea of making the journey across the city from home to work using a white cane.
She contacted the Guide Dogs organisation and was dismayed to be told that the wait for a new dog was likely to be a year.
Lynn soldiered on with a cane for three months, although she never felt safe, but breaking point came when she almost fell under a train.
Said Lynn, “I made the difficult decision to find a labrador and train it to guide me. I contacted a labrador rescue organisation, who wouldn’t give me even a pet dog as they thought a blind person would be unable to look after one.”
In desperation, Lynn began touring the dog shelters, and it wasn’t long before she found Lucy, a year-old labrador who’d had at least three owners, and who was having trouble being placed because of her terrible behaviour around children and other dogs.
Said Lynn, who is guided by Lucy in her daily walk to and from work in Bangor, “In hindsight, Lucy was the wrong candidate but being the eternal optimist, I ignored the signs and took her home.
“A week later she walked in harness, and a month after that she was guiding me on and off tube trains.
“Lucy totally changed my life again, and to get a certificate would put the icing on the cake.”
A spokesperson for guide dogs confirmed they had received the request, “Having received Lynn’s request we are currently giving it careful consideration and will respond to her in due course.”