Suffolk

Guide dog 'operates crossing' to help owner across road

  • 6 January 2014
  • From the section Suffolk

A guide dog has been trained to help his owner cross the road, by finding and sometimes operating pelican crossings.

Chris Michaels, 68, started to lose his sight when he was in his 20s and is now blind.

His Labrador retriever, Miller, guides him on visits to Saxmundham, Suffolk, and jumps up at crossings, showing Mr Michaels where the button is.

"He's a very good guide dog, he helps me a good deal," Mr Michaels said.

The six-year-old dog has been with Mr Michaels for about four years and was trained at his home, meaning he was taught skills which would benefit his owner.

"I know on one occasion when I didn't have a guide dog I did wander off into the road," Mr Michaels said.

Chris Michaels with Miller the guide dog
Chris Michaels said Miller provided invaluable help getting to town

'Not standard practice'

When he wants to cross the road, Mr Michaels will say "crossing" and wait for Miller to locate the panel.

"He jumps up with his front paws to the pole, and sometimes accidentally presses the button with his nose," Mr Michaels said.

''He also finds letter boxes. I don't know how he finds them."

Shaun Basham, engagement manager for Guide Dogs, said teaching dogs to jump up at pedestrian crossing boxes was not "standard practice".

He said guide dogs were all given basic training and then trained further to meet a particular client's individual needs.

"Sometimes we will train a dog to identify a certain control box," he said.

"But it is not something that would suit everybody."

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