Trainee guide dog puppies tour Edinburgh Airport

Guide dogs wait by the baggage cart at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Guide dogs wait by the baggage cart at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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PUPPIES from Guide Dogs Scotland were put through their paces at Edinburgh Airport today to improve assistance for passengers with sight problems.

The trainees, aged between six and 15 months, were walked through Scotland’s busiest air terminal, which handles 10 million passengers a year.

Guide dogs are put through their paces at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Guide dogs are put through their paces at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The 12-strong pack comprised pure breed black labradors, golden retrievers, labradoodles and German shepherds. Youngest was Ronny, a tiny black lab.

The pups were taken through check-in and security - including a body scanner - to the departure lounge to familiarise themselves with the route they will guide passengers.

The training day was part of the airport’s Travelling with Additional Needs programme, launched last April.

The airport said many of the 520 registered guide dog owners in Scotland were regular travellers.

A guide dog takes a breather at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A guide dog takes a breather at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A spokesman said: “It’s vital the puppies are trained for their future role as guide dogs as they have to be ready to deal with all eventualities and get used to busy places.”

Head of terminal operations Sarah Gardiner said: “We realise each passenger is unique and may have different requirements so that’s why we’ve been working hard to understand the complex types of barriers which can stop people from being able to fly.”

David Smith, puppy walking supervisor with Guide Dogs Scotland, said: “Fully qualified guide dogs are required to face a variety of settings and situations with calmness and confidence, and early tastes of different environments will see them experienced for later life.

“We’re keen to expose the pups to the experience of going through security and all that it entails, such as being handled by different people, having their lead and collar removed and going through the scanner.

“It’s a good experience for the pups to get used to the sights, sounds and smells of the airport so it shouldn’t bother them later when they are fully-trained guide dogs helping people with sight loss to lead independent lives.”

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